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By Elaine

Author "Calling the Rainbow Nation Home"

 

Whosoever

 

    

 

My journey leading up to the point that I realized I was gay was a long and difficult one.[1] Like most, the realization that I was gay was a hard blow to take. "How could I be gay?” I thought after all I was a Christian! Over the last nine years I had devoted myself to the Lord and He in turn had totally rebuilt by life from the ground up. Trails and tribulations I'd gone through had only strengthened my faith and my knowledge of His Word. I had witnessed the supernatural and my life had even been saved once through God's miraculous intervention. I was completely baffled. How could a person so completely devoted to the Lord be gay?

 

Making matters worse the late eighties was a difficult time to be “coming out” especially if one was a Christian! For a ‘war’ of sorts had broken out between the newly emerging homosexual community who were demanding an end to long standing discriminatory practices. And the “religious right” who viewed homosexuality as a perverted “choice” and a wicked “lifestyle” from which gay people were expected to extricate themselves. Messages saying as such were preached every Sunday in pulpits across the United States. The more radical among them decried homosexuals as an “abomination” before God. While others called for the Levitical Law to be carried out and homosexuals be put to death![2]

 

Other fundamentalists even went so far as to claim that the AIDS crises was God’s punishment for our “wicked” lifestyle. One minister from Kansas even made regular visits to major cities across the nation with members of his congregation. Solely to picket the funerals of AIDS victims. Their signs were plastered with the vicious epitaph: “Fags are going to Hell!” Of course such tactics only served to alienate the homosexual community and push them further away from the loving God they so desperately needed.

  

Am I Saved, or Am I Going to Hell?

 

Searching for God’s will in this mess was difficult at best. Like every other gay person in America I was bombarded daily with the message that homosexuals were going to hell. Even though I’d been a Christian now for over nine years, I couldn’t help but wonder if I really was saved. I could live with society’s rejection, but not with God’s. Was the ‘sin’ of homosexuality going to send me to hell? What was sin to God anyway? All other issues associated with homosexuality seemed trivial by comparison so I decided to begin my search for God's will here.

 

But how does one study sin? Where should I start? I had been around long enough by then to realize that everyone had their own ideas about sin. Adding to my uncertainty over the matter was the notion that God would condemn an entire group of people to hell simply because of who they were! This didn’t seem like the God I had grown to know so well over the years! After all if this was true. Why would God have gone to all the trouble of saving me, protecting me and restoring me, only to condemn me to hell because I was gay?

 

Clearly I couldn’t find my answer by studying what others had to say about the matter because no one seemed to agree! So I’d have to study it out for myself using only the Bible as my text. If such a “super sin” existed it would be mentioned several times in Scripture. For God isn’t an unjust God (2 Thessalonians 1:6; Revelation 19:2), nor is He one to set hidden traps and pitfalls (James 1:13). If something is wrong, God will tell us plainly through His Word. 

 

During a long Christmas break I vowed to find God’s will concerning this matter. Mornings were spent studying the Bible and taking copious notes. In the afternoon I would hike for miles along the logging roads that stretched behind my grandparents’ house. I openly discussed my findings with God, talking aloud with myself and anything else within earshot!

 

No matter how dedicated I was to the effort, after a week and a half I had no resolution. My prayers and conversations with God always seemed to run into the same dead end. Time and time again I would ask God what His will was concerning the homosexual issue and the reply was always the same; simply “I love you”. While this was comforting, this answer surely wasn’t helping me resolve any of my issues!

 

My studies were equally frustrating. Producing only two lengthy lists detailing what God did and did not like. Yet none of the sins seemed to cause one to lose their salvation or prevent someone from accepting Christ. Nor did homosexuality seem to fit in with the other sins, all of which caused harm to one’s self or to others. My attraction to and affection for Pam hardly seemed comparable to rape, murder, adultery, perjury, or a long recital of other sins large and small. I felt this to be true, but I could find no definitive backing for such a belief in God’s word. The problem was that my vacation was almost over and there was still had no answer in sight.

 

Whosoever

 

I remember the afternoon of my breakthrough very well. I was hiking the same path for the umpteenth time, asking God the same questions over and over. No guidance, no direction; just “I love you” in response to every question. My frustration was mounting and time was running out. Crying, praying, and yelling at God, I remember walking down an easy slope and past a creek marking the halfway point of the trail. I barely noticed where I was going because of my tears and mental state. Right then, the Holy Spirit asked me a simple question. “Elaine, how is someone saved?” “What?” I replied – “That’s not what I’m asking!” Not to be deterred the Holy Spirit gently asked again. “How are you saved?” At that moment this famous passage in Scripture came to mind:

 

John 3:16 (NIV)

"For God so loved the world that He gave His one and only Son, that whoever believes in Him shall not perish but have eternal life.

 

The simplicity of the truth hit me. I had been asking the wrong question! The issue was not sin, but salvation! God had told us that “whosoever” (King James translation) believes in Him would not perish. “Whosoever” did not exclude anyone, instead it included everyone! There was simply no group of people who would, or could, be excluded from God’s salvation. It did not matter what sin you committed, if you were gay or straight, black or white, male or female. None of it made a difference. What mattered was whether you believed in Jesus Christ or not and had accepted Him as your savior!  It was that simple. I sensed the Holy Spirit telling me to study salvation, not sin, for my questions would be answered there. I immediately turned around on the trail and headed back home.

 

Yes, but…

 

Awe over the simplicity of the answer and excitement of God’s revelation lasted all of thirty yards down the logging road before doubts crept in. “How could all of these famous ministers be wrong, and you be right?” this thought retorted. “After all, homosexuality is a lot more than an ordinary, garden variety type of sin!”

 

Seemingly substantiating this claim I remembered a brochure on the homosexuality I’d been given years earlier. I remembered how debauched and wicked the people in the photos had looked! Then I remembered my old roommate and her revulsion at the very notion that she could be gay! Finally I remembered what I’d been told about the “gay lifestyle” and how homosexual relationships carried with them no permanence or love. I remembered my mother telling me when I had come out to her that I was damned to a life of drifting from one meaningless relationship to another.

 

All of these ‘facts’ seemed to add up to just one conclusion. That there was no way a homosexual could ever be a Christian! And yet, there was Pam! Her lifestyle wasn’t at all like that. On top of that she acknowledged Jesus Christ as her Lord and Savior and her character bore this claim out! How can this be? I was terribly confused to say the least.

 

Despite my doubts and confusion, I knew what God had just given me was the key. I knew as I headed down the final stretch of road to my Grandparents’ house that my answer would be found by studying salvation, not sin. With only four days of vacation remaining, I returned to my studies with renewed vigor. Sure that an answer would be found this time.

 

Is Salvation Only for Some and Not for Others?

 

No matter how I looked at it John 3:16 seemed to clearly indicate that salvation is solely based on our acceptance or rejection of Jesus Christ, not on ones sexual orientation. But how could all of these other Christians be wrong? Furthermore, why would they march around with signs saying that “Fags are going to Hell” if salvation had nothing to with one’s sexual orientation? 

 

I was aware of the fact that my own desires and prejudices could be clouding the way I interpreted Scripture. To offset this, I decided to reverse the issue and assume for the moment that the anti-gay contingent was correct. Homosexuality was a sin and they were going to hell[3]. Would such a premise stand up to Biblical scrutiny?

 

I could think of only two possible scenarios supporting the notion that homosexuals were excluded from salvation. The first was that salvation was somehow reserved for only a select group of people, and homosexuals were excluded from this group. The second possibility was that homosexuality was such a terrible and perverse sin that salvation was beyond our grasp. If neither of these ideas could be supported by Scripture. Then there was no Biblical basis to believe that all homosexuals are destined to Hell simply because of our sexual orientation.

 

Not the Right Group?

 

Does God really hate “Fags”, as the signs had declared? Did Jesus wish to save only a select group of people and turn His back on others? The belief that one group is somehow more worthy of salvation than another is at the heart of this argument. Was Christ only coming for those designated most worthy, leaving everyone else to fend for themselves?

 

It may seem surprising, but this is not a new idea. The early Christians believed that salvation was only offered to those of Jewish heritage and not to the Gentiles (non- Jews) who were seen as an unclean abomination (Acts 10:28). Thankfully, Paul wrote extensively on this issue and strongly refuted the notion that salvation is offered only to a select few. It is offered to anyone who accepts Jesus Christ as their Lord and Savior. Whether or not we actually accept the invitation is up to us.

 

God only Sees the Heart

 

It’s important to remember that God’s ways have never been our ways (Isaiah 55:8-9), nor does God look at people the way we do. Those who believed themselves to be on the top rung of the religious ladder as God’s chosen people have rarely been considered as such by God. Few of Jesus’ followers came from the religious “elite”. Instead they were everyday people like you and I. They included fishermen, tax collectors, shepherds, and even criminals and prostitutes. God has never been one to show favoritism (Romans 2:11; Galatians 2:6). Social status, heritage, nationality, gender, and sexual orientation are groupings created by society, not by God.

 

What does the Father see when He looks at you and me? He sees our hearts, our motives, our desire to serve Him and to do His will. Most importantly, He sees whether or not we’ve accepted Jesus as our Lord and Savior. For none of us is worthy or righteous enough to enter into God’s family on our own, without the atonement of our sins through Christ (Ephesians 2:8-9). Citizenship is by faith: nothing more, and nothing less.

 

Galatians 3:26-29 (NIV)

“You are all sons of God through faith in Christ Jesus, for all of you who were baptized into Christ have clothed yourselves with Christ. There is neither Jew nor Greek, slave nor free, male nor female, for you are all one in Christ Jesus.”

 

Galatians 3:28 (TLB)

“We are no longer Jews or Greeks or slaves or free men or even merely men or women, but we are all the same – we are Christians; we are one in Christ Jesus.”

 

Not Willing that Any be Lost

 

The final problem with assuming that God judges us worthy or not worthy based on anything but our faith is that it portrays God as rejecting or accepting someone based on some other criteria. Could this be true? Scripture tells us over and over that “God is love” (1 John 4:8, 16) and that God “so loved the world that He gave His only begotten Son” (John 3:16). Christ Himself said that “your Father in heaven is not willing that any of these little ones should be lost” (Matthew 18:14). There in lies the paradox. Would a loving God turn away someone who wanted to turn their heart and life to Christ when His will was that none be lost? No, for to do so would mean that God words and actions were inconsistent, something that we know simply cannot be (Hebrews 13:8, Hebrews 1:12, James 1:17, Malachi 3:6).

 

Too Great a Sin?

 

Scripture tells us that no person or group is excluded from the plan of salvation, so how could all homosexuals be condemned to hell? There is only one possible argument left; this being that homosexuality is such an evil and perverse sin that it cannot be forgiven.  In other words, homosexuality is so horrible that Christ’s death cleansed all of mankind’s sin except this one. Could this be true? 

 

The Holy Spirit challenged me to flip the question around and look at it from another angle. Let’s suppose for a moment that this supposition is true: all homosexuals are going to hell because the “sin” of homosexuality is too great to be forgiven.

 

If we accept this premise, the implications are immense, for it means that there is a limit to salvation’s cleansing power. We would have to believe that Christ did not conquer sin[4], but rather that a single sin conquered Him! If sin conquered Christ, then satan, not Christ, still rules and we have lost the battle! Is there such a limit to the cleansing blood of Christ that was shed on the cross? No! (Romans 8:37-39; Matthew 28:18) A thousand times no!

 

How do I know this to be true? I knew firstly because Paul said in Romans 8:1 “Therefore there is now no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus”.  If there was a sin that could keep us from being saved then the text would have read “Therefore there is now no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus EXCEPT for the homosexuals”. It simply does not say that!

 

Secondly, I know because of my own personal experience. God had so dramatically changed me on the day I walked off of that mountain on Orcas island ten years prior that to tell me that God wasn’t interested in homosexuals or that God wouldn’t accept a gay person would be absurd! It was too late to tell me such things! For I had already experienced firsthand God’s miraculous touch and power (2 Corinthians 5:17-19) and my being gay or not being gay hadn’t mattered to God one wit! I had felt God’s overwhelming love for me already and had personally experienced the lengths He would go to save me. I, like Paul, could say that I am “fully persuaded that God (has) the power to do what He (has) promised”, and am “fully convinced that what He (has) promised He (is) also able to perform.” (Romans 4:21). God had done a tremendous job of changing me from the inside out yet during that time He never once attempted to remove or alter my sexual orientation. 

 

All Have Sinned…

 

The final flaw to this argument is that it implies that somehow one sin separates us from God more than another. In fact, all sin separates us from God’s presence (2 Corinthians 6:14; 1 John 1:5-7). Combine that with the truth that “all have sinned, and fallen short of the glory of God” (Romans 3:23) and what do we find? Simply that not one of us would be “good enough” to make it to heaven without Christ.

 

1 John 1:8-10 (NIV)

“If we claim to be without sin, we deceive ourselves and the truth is not in us. If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just and will forgive us our sins and purify us from all unrighteousness. If we claim we have not sinned, we make him out to be a liar and his word has no place in our lives.”

 

To then imply that ones life is somehow more ‘sin free’ simply because you are a heterosexual is the same as the Jews telling the Gentiles that they were “holier” simply because they happen to be born into the proper tribe of Abraham! We know that this is simply not true (Matthew 3:9; 1 Corinthians 1:26-31)! Again, it is our faith, nothing more and nothing less, which determines our salvation.

 

Do not Call Unclean that Which God has Called Clean…

 

It’s clear that no one particular group of people has ever been excluded from salvation. There is no sin so great that it cannot be cleansed by the power of the blood of Jesus. Salvation has nothing to do with one’s sexual orientation, and everything to do with our acceptance or rejection of Jesus Christ.  The protestors’ signs stating, “Fags are going to Hell!” should instead have asked, “Have you Accepted Jesus Christ?”

 

Where does this leave us? Still with a major dilemma for sure! For we have a Church telling everyone that homosexuals have no place in God’s kingdom, and that somehow the “good news” doesn’t include them. We know that this simply is not true! God hasn’t excluded anyone from the plan of salvation. Even if we assume for the sake of argument that homosexuality is a sin, we know that there is no sin so great that it is not cleansed when one is saved.  For “there is now no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus" (Romans 8:1).

 

In short, God hasn’t excluded anyone, and there is no limit to the saving grace of salvation. The only limits placed are by people who have artificially attempted to define who can, and cannot, be saved. Jesus emphasized this final point by saving His harshest rebuke, not for the people the Jews considered an “unclean abomination” (i.e. the Gentiles). But for the church leaders who attempted to control who were and were not acceptable to the Church (Matthew 23:13-15). Peter himself was warned to not “call unclean that which God calls clean” (Acts 10:15, 34). It’s clear that Jesus died so all may freely accept His salvation (John 3:16; Romans 10:9-10). As for those who would attempt to exclude us from God’s plan of salvation Jesus had this to say:

 

1 John 4:16-21 (NIV)

“God is love.  Whoever lives in love lives in God, and God in him.  In this way, love is made complete among us so that we will have confidence on the day of judgment, because in this world we are like Him.  There is no fear in love.  But perfect love drives out fear, because fear has to do with punishment.  The one who fears is not made perfect in love. We love because He first loved us.  If anyone says, "I love God," yet hates his brother, he is a liar.  For anyone who does not love his brother, whom he has seen, cannot love God, whom he has not seen. And He has given us this command: Whoever loves God must also love his brother.”

 

 

 

Note: If you are still confused about how a gay Christian can feel they are 'right' with God I encourage you to read the section of the web site entitled "Gay and Christian? YES!"

 


[1] Covered in chapters one (“Calling me Home”) and two (“The Way Back”) in the book “Calling the Rainbow Nation Home”. This article summarizes some of this material while the rest is taken from from excerpts of chapter three titled “Am I going to Hell?” I apologize ahead of time for all mistakes in grammar etc. as the summarization of the three chapters was done over a short period of time and proper editing of the work was not possible.

[2] Editorial written by Mrs. Lindsey, Publisher and Editor Christ for the Nations newsletter. July 1993 edition. Mrs. Lindsey’s husband was the president and founder of the Christ for the Nations Bible College.

[3] Of course, for this premise to even be halfway logical, we have to assume for the moment that homosexuality is a sin, something I was hardly yet convinced of yet.

 

Excerpts from Chapter 3 Titled “Am I Going to Hell?”

From the book titled “Calling the Rainbow Nation Home”

Copyright © 2002 by the author and G.A.L.I.P.

All rights reserved. No portion of this article may be reproduced, stored in a retrieval system, or transmitted in any form or by any means electronic, mechanical, photocopy, recording, or any other except for brief quotations without the permission of the author and/or G.A.L.I.P..

 

 

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