“Church attendance is falling.” “I can’t stand organized religion.” “I was kicked out of my church.” “You’re an abomination.” “Love the sinner, hate the sin.”
These are just a few of the quotes I have personally heard. Some over many and some in the last few years. It seems ugly is rearing itself once again.
And don’t get me started on the Rev. Franklin Graham, the son of evangelical Christian evangelist Billy Graham. Despite his anti-gay rhetoric, Rev. Graham insists he loves gay people and feels he needs to tell them that “you cannot stay gay and call yourself a Christian.”
Yes, dear Rev. Franklin Graham and others who support his beliefs feel what I would call their “backhanded complements” are coming back out of the woodwork (even more), now that a major election year is upon us. Many will (or have continued) to tell us that we cannot be Gay and Christian. Honestly, I find that to be furthest from the truth; a bold face LIE. I, like many, are both. Some Gays may consider themselves religious, some spiritual. Some a combination of both.
As I do from time to time, I will refer to one of my favorite dictionaries, Merriam-Webster, and see how they define religion and spirituality:
Religious: 1: relating to or manifesting faithful devotion to an acknowledged ultimate reality or deity <a religious person> <religious attitudes> 2: of, relating to, or devoted to religious beliefs or observances <joined a religious order> 3a : scrupulously and conscientiously faithful, b : fervent, zealous.
Spiritual: 1: of, relating to, consisting of, or affecting the spirit : incorporeal <spiritual needs> 2a : of or relating to sacred matters <spiritual songs> b : ecclesiastical rather than lay or temporal <spiritual authority> <lords spiritual> 3: concerned with religious values 4: related or joined in spirit <our spiritual home> <his spiritual heir> 5a : of or relating to supernatural beings or phenomena b : of, relating to, or involving spiritualism : spiritualistic
Now I realize I am no longer a youngster. My eyesight isn’t what it used to be and I wear glasses to read and do computer work, but did I miss in either of these definitions where it says “Only if you are heterosexual”? The same with the bible. I will be the very first to say I AM NOT a bible scholar. I have said from the first day of my ministry journey, it is not who I am, nor will it be.
I cannot quote scripture off the top of my head. That’s not the area where my call to ministry is. Mine is ministering directly to the people. But back to my comment “The same with the bible.” In any scripture I have searched or read, where the “words in red” (are supposed to) represent the words of Jesus did I find where Jesus said if you are gay or lesbian you cannot follow him or are one of his children. Nowhere.
But, you have these holier than thou extremists telling their misguided, uneducated flock of sheep or any other person they can brainwash, that we are evil, pedophiles (yes, it still comes up), recruiters, etcetera, etcetera., etcetera.
Well extremists, I have a news flash for you: I (like many others) am gay, I am Christian and I am ordained to do God’s work. Other Gays and Lesbians are not ordained, but are good Christians who do wonderful things in and out of our own communities.
And what of the recent headline of Anglican Communion suspending and punishing the Episcopal Church, following years of heated debate with the American church over homosexuality, same-sex marriage and the role of women? Do you really think any person with a true calling to do God’s work is going to let this stop them? No.
Rev. Franklin Graham, and the rest of you, you are well out of your league. We have God/Jesus on our side. There is nothing you can do or say that will stop any of us from doing what we do, or be there for others. We are no less God’s created children than you. You don’t get to pick and choose what you feel is who we are to be and we won’t be bullied because of your sticks and stones. We will continue to do what we do, and I would bet anything, with more love, passion, spirit and far less animosity. That’s the straight truth!
Gay vs. Religion? Rev. Franklin Gram and your followers, my gloves are on. I’ll meet you in the ring any time.
I leave you with this quote (ironically) from Franklin’s father, the Rev. Billy Graham: “I think that the Bible teaches that homosexuality is a sin, but the Bible also teaches that pride is a sin, jealousy is a sin, and hate is a sin, evil thoughts are a sin. So I don’t think that homosexuality should be chosen as the overwhelming sin that we are doing today.”
Rev. Joel S. Slotnick is an ordained Interfaith minister and full time digital court reporter for the state of Florida.