March 26, 2017

Love is an Orientation: Elevating the Conversation with the Gay Community by Andrew Marin (InterVarsity, 2009) Waiting for permission to post digest.  What follows is an abbreviated outline. You may purchase the book here.

  1. Forward: I decided to fully immerse myself in the GLBT community. My ultimate goal was to become, as I put it back then, “the most involved gayest straight dude on the face of the earth.”
  2. Chapter 1 We Don’t Need Your God!
    1. They’re just kids: Research now reports that the average age of someone who first realizes  same-sex attraction is thirteen years old….
    2. The battlefield of coming out: Most adolescents experiencing same-sex attraction are too frightened to say anything to anybody for fear of what might happen,
  • What happens on the other side of realization? What happens in the long run to a person who prays the same prayer every night and wakes up every morning not having that prayer answered? … The majority of GLBT people whom I have met over my nine years of being immersed in their community – believers and nonbelievers, black and white, men and women- have told me the same things:  when they first realized their same sex thoughts and attractions they started to pray that God would take those unwanted feelings away.  Even atheists have told me that they were willing to put their unbelief in God aside in the hope that he would make them straight like everyone else…
    1. Preconceived Ideas: …There is an undercurrent of preexisting negative perceptions of Christianity’s traditional belief system
    2. What Can Christians do?: The Christian community is by and large well intentioned
  1. Chapter 2. We Are Not Your Project: Christians tend to perceive themselves as morally superior to GLBT people, based on the belief that the Bible allows only three options for connecting faith and sexuality: be heterosexual, be celibate or live in sin….
    1. Same-sex Sexual Behavior: …Over the years I have had many gay people tell me that if someone were to take away their sexual behavior, they would be taking away all they are as people.
    2. Behavior Versus Identity: Sin of any kind is, theologically, an offense against God’s created intent because it’s a behavior that violates our identity as creatures that bear his image…
  • Sexuality’s Infinite Continuum: …Sexuality’s infinite continuum persists because both communities are working off of a false model of “the ideal situation” –
  1. Abuse and Its Impact: …There are indeed GLBT people who have experienced abuse, and many in the roader gay community do not want to talk about it. But abused GLBT people tell me the reason they don’t want to talk about their past with Christians is because Christians are already expecting that story.
  2. What Has Our Response Been? I have heard from many different Christian churches and organizations around the United States that everything the GLBT community does or believes is just a ploy to normalize same-sex sexual behaviors.  Yet I strongly believe that the Christian community has done more to equate sexual behavior with sexual identity among the GLBT community than they have themselves.
  3. What Christians Can do: Don’t cut the conversation short:  …Looking for opportunities to build trust will inevitably remove some of the fears and obvious obstacles we face.
  • Don’t Take the Bait: Some gays and lesbians tell me they bait Christians, trying to lead them into a no-win debate about gay sexual behavior and identity.
  • Love the Sinner Hate the Sin: One of the most difficult juxtapositions Christians find themselves in is how to balance a relationship with a GLBT person while maintaining their convictions about traditional biblical mandates for sexuality.


  1. Chapter 3: Stigma, Shame and Politics – the GLBT Experience in the Broader Culture:… The GLBT community feels a constant unnamed pressure from both sides – an invisible Christian ideal that they can’t see themselves living up to, and an overt push from the gay-friendly culture to just “come out” and be OK with it.
    1. Stigma and Shame in Mainstream Culture: Current data, depending on the source, estimates that gays, lesbians, bisexuals and transgenders account for somewhere between 1 and 7 percent of the American population. An overwhelmingly larger percentage of the population – around 36 percent – identify themselves as traditionally conservative, Bible-believing Christians…The GLBT community sees itself as one of the many minority casualties of Christendom.
    2. Stigma and Shame in Historical Gay Culture: …By all accounts the modern era of the GLBT community began on June 28, 1969 when a group of gay, lesbian, bisexual and transgender people rioted in the streets of New York City.
  • Stigma and Shame in Political Culture
  1. Shame and Church Culture: view from Inside:  The overarching stigma felt by GLBT people with the church is continually brought to light by the ingrained cultural psyche that shame is supposed to be the inherent, default feeling for all who have a same-sex attraction – Christian or non-Christian.
  2. What Christians Can Do: Words Matter:  …the word homosexual has only been used as a derogatory biblical term.  Since the mainstream GLBT community has traditionally looked at the Bible as a tool of oppression, hearing the word homosexual sets off a domino effect of associations: homosexual = Bible = Christian = fundamentalism = anti-gay = anti-me….
  3. Actions Matter: …First, Christians have to get past their own major issues regarding the GLBT community (this will be explored in chapter eight)….Second, Christians should do their homework beforehand….Third, we have to prepare ourselves to say or do anything that would be contrary to our intent to learn or serve – to not preach at, argue with, fight or debate gays and lesbians on their territory.
  • Noticing Matters: The last simple way Christians can step toward the GLBT community is to seek out those who don’t fit in. Be intentional …
  1. Chapter 4: Gay versus Christian and Gay Christians:  …The way that the argumentative nature of the strained conservative-GLBT relationship has been publicized does more harm to both communities than it ever will do for good.  But constructive dialogue just doesn’t make good TV now, does it?  This “war” has been paraded around like a circus
    1. The Words I Never Thought I’d Hear from a Pastor: 
    2. The Words I Never Thought I’d Hear from God: 
  • The Spectrum of Gay and Christian: … Most gay Christians live in so much fear that they have learned how to proficiently blend in to their conservative surroundings.  It’s a great chameleon job on their part, but it’s a heartbreakingly lost opportunity for authenticity
  1. Gay Christian General Beliefs: First, the GLBT community sees objections to homosexuality by evangelical Christians as a form of unjust religious bigotry….
  2. Gay Christian General Biblical Thoughts: Gay Christians believe that the passages in the Bible that condemn same-sex relationships are not referencing long-term, committed monogamous relationships.
  3. Old Testament Gay Apologetic: The Sodom and Gomorrah Story (Gen 19) is not talking about long-term, committed monogamous same-sex relationships – it is talking about gay rape.
  • New Testament Gay Apologetic: Jesus was silent on the issue of homosexuality. Which begs the question: if homosexuality is so important, why did Jesus not say one word about it?
  • Gay Social Apologetic: Homosexuality is an orientation, not a lifestyle…Homosexuality is genetic:
  1. Intertwined Biblical and Social Gay Apologetic: Gay Christians believe the Bible is used to justify homophobia, judgmentalism and segregation. This improper use of Scripture directly leads to the cultural stigma and shame GLBT people feel within the mainstream.
  2. Mel White’s 8 Premises:
    1. Most people have not carefully and prayerfully researched the biblical texts often used to condemn GLBT children.
    2. Historically, people’s misinterpretation of the Bible has left a trail of suffering bloodshed and death.
    3. Christians must be open to new truth from Scripture. Even heroes of the Christian faith have changed their minds about the meaning of various biblical texts.
    4. The Bible is a book about God – not about human sexuality: It condemns sexual practices we accept and we accept sexual practices it condemns.
    5. We miss what the passages say about God when we spend so much time debating what it says about sex.
    6. The biblical authors are silent about GLBT orientation as we know it today. They neither approve it or condemn it.
    7. Although the prophets, Jesus and other biblical authors say nothing about GLBT orientation as we understand it today, they are clear about one thing: As we search for truth, we are to “Love one another.”
    8. Whatever some people believe the Bible says about homosexuality, they must not use that belief to deny the GLBT community their basic civil rights. To discriminate against sexual or gender minorities is unjust and un-American.
  3. What Can Christians Do? Find a gay church with a gay pastor, ask to get together with them so you can listen and learn…the GLBT community is interested in the things of God
  1. Chapter 5: Who Are We Looking To For Validation:  The GLBT Quest for Good News from God.
    1. Constructing the Bridge Brings a Harsh Reality: Christian’s first move has to come unapologetically in love and humility by building a solid foundation of what we know to be true not only in our faith but also within the gay and lesbian community.
    2. Beginning to Elevate the Conversation: …to elevate the conversation is to change the conversation –moving the starting point of the conversation to the starting point of the conversation partner
  • Where does Eternal Validation Come From? The LGBT community has tended to look to others for legitimacy regarding who they are and what sexual behaviors they have – whether that validation comes from other gays and lesbians, from sections of the religious community or from mainstream culture…. I also believe this is why they fight so fiercely against evangelicals – they are longing to be validated by the one group that has yet to offer it.
  1. Eternal Validation is Not From Humans: Don’t think that the GLBT community has been the only one searching for validation in the wrong arenas. For years Christians have also sought out external earthly means to validate their claims against GLBT people.
  2. The Trouble with Normal: Michael Warner, a gay professor of English at Yale University wrote the book The Trouble with Normal as a critique of secularism, ethics, sexual shame, politics and gay marriage from a nontraditional gay perspective…Warner believes that same-sex marriage should not be legalize because it plays into the conservative Christian belief that marriage is the ultimate expression of love.
  3. The Questions Christians Can’t Answer: …Ask yourself the following questions: Why was I not chosen to have a same-sex attraction?  Why was I born the way I was born?  Why was I always sexually been attracted to the other sex?  Why was I not burdened with all that comes with being gay and lesbian?  Why have I never had to entertain the idea of being celibate for my entire life?  Why have I never had to think about fighting forever against a desire for sexual intimacy?  Why am I me and not any of them?  And why are they not me?  Are you entitled to your straightness? …. Heterosexual Christians take their sexuality as a birthright…
  • The Desire for Sexual Intimacy: …My heart breaks for those who can’t receive an answer to sexuality as easily as heterosexual Christians.
  1. Chapter 6: Reclaiming the Word Love – Measurable Unconditional Behaviors
    1. Those Who Seek and Those Who Don’t: The traditional Christian approach to bridge building with gays and lesbians is what I call the 80-20 reach…. I believe that about 20 percent of the GLBT community is actively interested in ex-gay ministries and a change in orientation. That means on the flip side that 80 percent of the GLBT community wants absolutely nothing to do with it….
    2. Fitting a Round Peg Into a Square Hole: … From a straight Christian perspective, the ideal life is to get married and have a family. From a gay perspective the ideal is to come out and live a happy, sexually reconciled faith as an active gay man or lesbian woman. And for those believers with a same-sex attraction who don’t fit in the other two ideals, the third ideal is to be celibate
  • Why One-Word Answers? The fourth ideal is a good example of a principle I’ve discovered in my relationships with GLBT people:  if you change the questions, you inevitably change the conversation….
  1. What Do You Mean, Change?: 
  2. Project Reclaiming the Word LOVE: …when the Graham family was attending a rally in support of President Bill Clinton after his sex scandal was made public. A reporter asked Billy Graham, “Why are you here supporting this man after everything he has done to this country?” Reverend Graham’s answer was succinct, powerful and true.  “it is the Holy Spirit’s job to convict, God’s job to judge and my job to love.”
  1. Chapter 7 – the Big 5 – Principles for a More Constructive Conversation: …The argument surrounds five texts:  Genesis 19 – the Sodom and Gomorrah story;  Leviticus 18:22 and 20:13 – sections of the Holiness Code that prohibit same-sex sexual behavior and list the punishments for those behaviors; Romans 1:26-27 – determining what is sexually natural and unnatural; 1 Corinthians 6:9-11 – same-sex sexual behavior’s non-inclusion to the kingdom of God; 1 Timothy 1:9-11 – the need for sound doctrine in opposition to false teachers of the law;  condemning same-sex sexual behavior as part of a larger group.
    1. Biblical Interpretations: The interpretation of Greek and Hebrew terms in the Bible is central to the debates over homosexuality.
    2. Mind-Frame-Shift Principle: Genesis 19:…we can find some insight in Ezekiel 16:49-50 “Now this was the sin of your sister Sodom: She and her daughters were arrogant, overfed and unconcerned; they did not help the poor and needy. They were haughty and did detestable things before me.  Therefore I did away with them as you have seen.”…
  • Crossroads Principle: The Holiness Code: …When it comes to the book of Leviticus both communities are solely focused once again on the debates of word meaning.
  1. Oneness Principle: Romans 1:26-27: Once a person has made a cognizant decision to either fully live for God, or not for God, they have decided what a relationship with God means to their lives and how that will influence their future path. From that choice comes the Oneness Principle: “Anything that positively or negatively affects an individual’s one-on-one relationship with the Lord – or, for that matter, a person’s form divorce from the Lord
  2. The Great Christian Debate: 1 Corinthians 6:9-11: At what point does a Christian release responsibility for someone else’s life? This is the crux of the question at the heart of the fourth principle: The Great Christian Debate. It comes from 1 Corinthians 6:9-11.
  3. Think-Big-Picture Principle: 1 Timothy 1:9-11: The Think-Big-Picture Principle, our fifth and final principle, prompts us to trust God by standing firm and persevering in our calling because each person has until their very last breath to accomplish what God has set forth for their life. This principle is pulled from the book of 1 Timothy and relates specifically to chapter 1, verse 9-11:
  • The Big 5 Principles Taken Together: To elevate does not mean to ignore. Rather, elevating the conversation between GLBT and Christian communities means making a choice to stop the fight, understanding the differences that tear the GLBT and Christian communities apart and then seeking God and his eternal principles that bridge these two groups of people. God’s intentions are clearly revealed within the passages in Scripture that speak to homosexuality:
    1. To shift each person’s mind frame away from the things that bind our yearning for anything else but God
    2. To bring each person to their own crossroads of belief where they make a choice to live distinctly for him or not
    3. To recognize from that choice what positively or negatively affects an individual’s oneness with the Lord
    4. To know when to release control of someone else’s life
    5. To keep open a path for God to accomplish his will for a person’s life, even until their last breath.
  1. Chapter 8: Laying the Foundation: Commitment, Boldness and the Big 5:
    1. Commitment 1: Commitment: …When it comes to same-sex sexual attractions and behaviors, Christians just give up too easily. Therefore, above anything else when it comes to the GLBT community, the most important thing Christians can do is make a commitment for the long haul…
    2. Commitment 2: Boldness: Boldness is a matter of intentionality. Christians must take the lead in stopping pointless arguments and debates, confronting sexuality’s infinite continuum and refusing to use close-ended questions. The Marin Foundation’s slogan is “be Bold.”
  • Commitment 3: Applying the Mind-Frame-Shift Principle: …This isn’t a trite “Lord, change me.” It is rather a serious self-exposure which deconstructs an old mind that stifles our ability to see God and the GLBT community clearly.
  1. Commitment 4: Applying the Crossroads Principle: Will we make a willful, knowledgeable, and cognizant decision to live differently regarding the gay and lesbian community, or will we just stay the same? The apostle Peter details the countercultural life on the far side of this crossroads in 1 Peter 4:1-11
  2. Commitment 5: Applying the Oneness Principle: When a decision for God is made, the next major movement of growth is communication. The ultimate ideal for the Oneness Principle is that gays and lesbians would one day be able to confidently say that the Lord talks to them and they hear him, and that they talk to the Lord and he hears them
  3. Commitment 6: Applying the Great Christian Debate: …Releasing eternal responsibility while still loving in tangible and measurable expressions of unconditional behaviors actually gives GLBT people the room to live life, continuing to wrestle with issues that are beyond them, and us.
  • Commitment 7: Applying the Thing-Big-Picture Principle: …I’ve come to realize that the bombardment of doctrine or the pressure of a decision is not what is needed to get an eternal point across. Presence is more than enough.
  1. Chapter 9: Building a Bridge: Asking the Right Questions: 
    1. Commitment 8: An Inquisitive Approach: Christians feel pressure to know and solve everything…. That pressure is perceived by the broader GLBT community as arrogance.
    2. Commitment 9: Transparency and Truthfulness: Just because a person is a Christian doesn’t give them an inherent right to be trusted…
  • Commitment 10: Don’t be Scared to be Yourself: I have never met a more loving community in my life than the GLBT community. Obviously there are exceptions in any community, but in general I’ve found that GLBT people don’t care if you’re skinny, hairy, fat, pimpled, a millionaire or dead broke;  there is room for everyone.  All they want is to give the same love to others as they want to receive for themselves…
  1. Chapter 10: Crossing a Bridge:  The World Reads Christians, Not the Bible:
    1. Commitment 11: Don’t No Them, Know Them: 
    2. Commitment 12: Glass Half-Full:  …Dr. David Yonggi Cho, pastor of the world’s largest church …says “Realists don’t change the world; dreamers do. Therefore become pregnant with a vision and birth it.”
  • Commitment 13: God’s Timetable: Sexual behavior modification, “change” as it’s commonly referred to, is the most pervasive fighting point between the Christian and the GLBT communities. Change is a hallmark of traditional Christian faith – the idea that we can do all things through Christ who strengthens us, even refashion parts of our life that we thought were unchangeable. But when referring to sexual behavior, “change” in the classic sense of the word can’t occur simply by an act of will on the part of the Christian community…”With the Lord a day is like a thousand years, and a thousand years are like a day (2 Pet 3:8)…we have to let go of the timelines
  1. Commitment 14: You are Not the Solution: People in need sometimes turn to resources they know will always reliably be there for them: counselors, friends, family or pastors….But as people find themselves deeply involved in another person’s spiritual journey, there can be a very real risk that the more mature Christian becomes not an aid but an easy answer to pain or a quick fix to questions and uncertainty…
  2. Commitment 15: Street Credibility:  
  3. Commitment 16: Always Answer the Tough Questions: 
    1. Do you think that gays and lesbians are born that way?
    2. Do you think homosexuality is a sin?
    3. Can a GLBT person change?
    4. Do you think that someone can be gay and Christian?
    5. Are GLBT people going to hell?

Do you think gays and lesbians are born that way? If I were to answer yes or no, I would earn the endorsement of one community at the expense of the trust of the other community…

            Do you think homosexuality is a sin? This is the most loaded of all of the loaded questions. Romans 3:23, however, says that “all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God.”

            Can a GLBT person change their sexual orientation? I believe change happens when Jesus gets hold of someone’s life. Who know, however, what kind of change it might turn out to be?…sticking to facts diffuses the weight of opinion-based answers. Therefore I continue answer the question with: “I also know some people who say that they once had same-sex sexual attraction but are now attracted exclusively to people of the opposite sex, and in fact are married and have kids and are living a happy life. Just the same I know people who have tried and tried and tried, and have not been able to ‘change their sexual orientation,’

            Do you think that someone can be gay and Christian? My immediate thought is, what is stopping such a person from believing?

            Are GLBT people going to hell?…The fear of eternity stares us all in the face, and my opinions are not going to get anyone into heaven, and by extension, they’re not going to land anyone in hell. Only God can accomplish either of those things. And since he is the ultimate judge, a whole lifetime of seeking his face and listening to his voice would be a life well spent…

  1. Conclusion: Every stereotype can be broken with a face and every face has a story…Christian faith calls for a specific distinction: love….we’re called by Christ to be different by being loving – by choosing humility over hostility