Justin is a Gay Christian who attended, and worked as a music director of the Faith Presbyterian Church in Gainesville, Florida from 2010 to 2012. At the time of his employment, the head pastor and a few elders knew Justin was gay but were under the impression he was planning to remain celibate. Since Justin wasn’t dating at the time, and was still trying to figure out his vocation, he lived with the Don’t Ask Don’t tell space.
In July of 2012, He moved from Gainesville to Seattle and was officially out as a gay man. He had a boyfriend, changed his relationship status on Facebook, and was subsequently contacted by an elder to clarify his relationship status. This phone call is what set the events in motion that led to the church sending him a letter of dismissal.
The letter begins, “regretfully it has come to our attention that you have been engaging in a homosexual lifestyle” which as my friend Justin Lee of the Gay Christian Network points out, there is no such thing as a “homosexual lifestyle.” The letter then proceeds to explain their traditional theological stance on same-sex sex (as if Justin has never heard the arguments presented despite him growing up in the church). It concludes with indicting Justin “on the charges of living out a lifestyle of sexual sin and falsely promoting this lifestyle as being in accordance with the Scriptures against the peace, purity and unity of the Church, and the honor and majesty of the Lord Jesus Christ, as the King and Head thereof. “
The PCA has every right to decide their membership criteria. I don’t wish to deny the administration that right. But we have to examine how they acted out their sincerely held beliefs because it does not reflect a Christ-centered theology.
First, the Church had absolutely no correspondence with him for two years. He didn’t receive a phone call checking on his move or an update on how he was doing. The familial connection wasn’t there yet the administration felt comfortable enough to issue a letter of condemnation. Next, when the elder of this church called to confirm the relationship, Justin asked that his membership be removed peacefully. He said he wished he could leave in “quiet disgrace.” The church had other plans, not only sending this letter but stating they were planning on making this public to their congregation – they wanted to publicly condemn someone who asked to leave peacefully.
Finally, showing some seriously flawed theology; In their letter they state, “This teaching cannot be ignored without denying God’s original creation of Adam and Eve, and if this truth is denied, then the atoning power of Jesus’ sacrificial death and our hope of eternal life must also be denied, for Adam’s role as the head of the human race is inextricably tied to Christ’s atoning work and our eternal hope in Romans 5:12-21 and 1 Cor. 15:20-22.” Despite the Bible only mentioning same-sex sex a handful of times, and Jesus not mentioning it once, the question of whether you believe if it’s a sin or not has become non affirming Cristian’s end all question. Somehow, if you are affirming of same-sex relationships you have also thrown out Jesus’ sacrificial death and hope for eternal life.
Minimizing scripture, especially the gospel, to theology on same-sex sex is a grave injustice to Jesus’ time here on earth. The Bible doesn’t say, “It is through your strict beliefs in the Church’s current teaching on sexual ethics that you shall be saved.” No, it says “For it is by grace you have been saved, through faith—and this is not from yourselves, it is the gift of God,” Ephesians 2:8.
Justin responded to the letter, in a way he said was admittedly angry—though he stands by his words. LGBT Christian’s face tangible experiences of alienation. Justin’s story is just one of many of a long list of Church’s feeling righteous in their religious homophobia. Many discuss LGBT people as a theoretical subject or sexualizing us to the point we’re seen as sex acts (FYI: The administration never asked Justin if he was sexually active).
[tweetable]The church is pushing LGBT people out of the pews and calling it God’s work.[/tweetable] Yet Christ never said “they will know you are my disciples by your hard stance on socially divisive issues.” No, He said “by this they will know you are my disciples, if you love one another,” John 13:35. As Justin said in his response, “You bring me a rod for beating and call it love.” It’s time to stop alienating God’s children and work for inclusive community so when Christ asks us on Judgment day what we have done we can respond, “Lord, I loved.”
Read letters below: