What I am writing about could end up on a few of my different blogs. I just read Mel White's book on 'The Stranger at the Gate' which is like a biography on Mel White, who claims to be a Gay Christian. Before you close your browser, you need to understand the method to my madness here! I was assigned to read this book for counseling class, and when I first got it, I couldn't imagine how this book could be helpful to us. We studied this book this past week, and now I understand why.
I have to complete a writing assignment telling what I learned from it. I will share some of those things here, specifically because the whole purpose of reading the book was to understand how a Gay person thinks, and more specifically how a Gay person could believe that they are Christian, and how the church is to minister to these people.
I will try to make this concise, as there are a lot of details I could write, but will keep this brief as to not make it confusing. First of all, I appreciate Mr. White's honesty and openness about his strong beliefs in his God and how it ties in with his homosexual philosophy. As our teacher said, 'Every Gay person uses this book as their mentor'. If you are talking or counseling with a Gay person, and he or she tells you that homosexuality is valid because it has been researched and shown to be scientifically real, you will begin to see this false religion that has duped the whole Lesbian Gay community today. You have to know why these people believe what they do, and what it is that they really do believe in. If you don't know, you will never be able to have a proper perspective on this sin, nor will you ever be able to adequately counsel a person who is struggling with homosexuality issues.
Mr. White begins the book telling of his strong 'Christian' background. He had a close relationship with his grandmother who basically discipled him. His parents were fundamental Christians who believed that it was a sin to smoke, drink, dance, and go to movies. The grandmother came to a belief that it was wrong for married people to enjoy having sex. Once children came along, then abstinence was in order. I didn't read anything about our sin, Jesus dying on the Cross to pay for our sins, or our response to the Gospel, except from the grandmother who would evangelize Mr. White's friends and invited the boys to 'ask Jesus into their hearts'.
Mr. White did seem to fear God though. In fact, he was afraid of God. He was sure that if he did something wrong, a lightning bolt would come down from heaven and he would be the target.
Mel White though, had a strong desire, starting as a youth. He was attracted to the bodies of well-built men. He thought it would pass, but this desire never did. It only continued and grew stronger. He was afraid (and understandably so) that if he told anyone, he would be ostracized. So, he kept his secret to himself. But there was a struggle. He felt guilty for this desire. This struggle continued and he continually asked God to 'heal' him or take the desire away, but nothing ever happened.
While in high school, he met the woman he ended up marrying. He also thought that maybe if he was married, the desire would go away. But it didn't. He still wanted that relationship with men, but instead he had a wife whom he really did love. He loved her, but his desire was stronger to have a romantic relationship with a man.
He struggled continually with guilt. He finally told his wife everything, but, at times, secretly he had special times with men he was attracted to. He went to all kinds of counseling and doctors for help. He tried medicine and shock treatments to help him snap out of it. But nothing worked.
Finally, one counselor explained to him that he was a 'Gay man' and that he should go on with his life as a Gay man. That released him to start going in the direction of living a homosexual lifestyle. He told his wife and they agreed to separate and eventually divorce, so he could pursue his desire.
The whole point of what I want to write though, is not primarily about Mel White, but what was going on in his relationship with the church at that time. Mr. White served and worked with men like Jerry Fallwell, Pat Robertson, and James Dobson as a ghostwriter. In this book, Mr. White tells about his journeys with these men, and others (like Billy Graham) and really does respect them for what they believe in. But as the chapters went on, there is no question of Mr. White's anger toward the 'Moral Majority' and the 'Religious Right' and those who sided with them on their viewpoint against homosexuality.
Mel White does not appear to have the Gospel right, to begin with, so that is where the problems that he experiences begins. Mr. White is a legalist. He knows there is a standard, and he thinks that he is on par with that standard until he does something to violate that standard (like dancing or drinking). When he violates that standard, he thinks that God is going to abandon him or punish him. He doesn't understand that he really doesn't keep the standard at all, and God is not punishing him right now, because God punished Jesus in his place. He doesn't understand that he can't keep the standard, to begin with. That's why Jesus came. Because we can't keep the standard, and we will be punished for our sins, if we die in our sins. Jesus kept the standard, and we can only get into heaven on His score. It's not enough to just know this. We must apply this to our own souls.
When a person is a legalist, they have a lot of guilt. But what happens, so many times, is that the legalist, for whatever reason, does something to violate the standard (such as taking a drink, or going to a dance) and they realize that God didn't kill them for breaking the rule. What ends up happening, is that people then think they are set free. They start talking about God's grace and swing right to the other side of legalism, which is lawlessness.
So, in the case of Mr. White, he saw that a few drinks, and a dance didn't kill him, so he went further. If his religion taught him that dancing and drinking were worthy of God's punishment, then what about being Gay? Mr. White thinks he is free to do things that he was formerly told were wrong. In his mind, homosexuality fits in that same category.
There were lies that Mel White was told, but they all tied into his new belief system. One of those lies was that he was born with a sexual orientation to be gay, and that the orientation is permanent. He could not change it even if he wanted to. He was also told that God made him homosexual, and that his homosexuality was a gift from God.
So, where was the church in all this? Mr. White was part of a well known seminary. He was part of different churches and ministries. For the most part, the church not only rejected homosexuality, but rejected the homosexual as well. As a result of the church's hostility toward Gay people, I believe we now have a community of Gay people armed with all their defenses against the church. They believe the church is stereotyped to hate Gay people and that the church wants them exterminated. Does this sound like the way a church should have responded to people who were Gay 50 years ago or so?
Both the church and the Gay community have this one big misunderstanding; Gay people are not a race of people, like a nationality. Mr. White lumps the Gay community, and its bigotry with black people, Jewish people, and other people from distant lands that are not welcome in America. We have the hatred from the church, or, so called 'Christians' like those from Westboro, who inform us all that 'God hates fags'. So, how is the church supposed to respond?
If a man comes into the church, who is known to have stolen things, how do we look at him? What if he is really seeking God? Chances are, we will try to help him to respond to the Gospel. But what happens when a Gay person comes in? We might keep our distance. After all, he might be carrying the AIDs virus, and we wouldn't want to catch it.
So, my point in all of what I want to say is this; We need to welcome Gay people that come into our gatherings. This DOESN"T mean that we believe that homosexuality is right. Homosexuality is a sin, and God will judge people who will die in their sins. We need to have mercy on these people because they, like Mel White, are probably struggling hard to figure out why they have these desires that they know deep down in their hearts is wrong. Only the church can hold up God's standard AND bridge the gap between our failings and that standard, with the grace of God. The world doesn't have the grace of God. The world doesn't have a correct answer for homosexuality. God is working in the hearts of homosexuals, but are we ready to minister to them? Are we examining our own hearts first, and dealing with our own sins, so that we can help others to be free from their sins?
One other last thought. I think we have stereotypes about homosexuals as well. We tend to lump them all in the same group as pornographers and child molesters. While those things are sinful, as well, the average Gay person is probably very civilized and wants to be part of a loving, safe society. So, when dealing with them, keep this in mind. They will not appreciate being in the same category as the others, and it is not helpful to think of them in this way.
So, this is my thought for tonight. Think about this, and feel free to comment or ask questions.