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No Place for Closets
by Tom Goodman
May 27, 2015

Attracted to same-sex intimacy and yet attracted to the call of Christ.  Maybe this is the struggle for someone important to you.  Maybe this is the struggle for you.

It was a dilemma Rosaria Champagne Butterfield knew well.  In 1999, she was in a committed lesbian relationship and held a tenured English professorship at Syracuse University specializing in Queer Theory, a postmodern form of gay and lesbian studies.  I loved reading The Secret Thoughts of an Unlikely Convert, the story of how she began to consider Christ and then committed to him.  What particularly struck me was how she allowed herself the support of a family of faith in this process.  Because of this, she found the space to evaluate the claims of Christ and then the strength to make the changes necessary to follow him.

Sadly, that is not the case for everyone.  She wrote:

Shortly after becoming a Christian, I counseled a woman who was in a closeted lesbian relationship and a member of a Bible-believing church.  No one in her church knew.  Therefore, no one in her church was praying for her.  Therefore, she sought and received no counsel.  No confession.  No repentance.  No healing.  No joy in Christ.  Just isolation.  And shame.  And pretense.

She added, "I think that churches would be places of greater intimacy and growth in Christ if people stopped lying about what we need, what we fear, where we fail, and how we sin."

Is Hillcrest this kind of place?  A place where it's safe to open the closet?  This Sunday, my message at the 10am hour will be about what you can expect at our church if you or someone important to you opened up about same-sex attraction.  I'll talk about who we want to be -- who we're trying to be -- for our community.  Then, at the 11am small-group hour, I will lead a panel discussion in the Multipurpose Center with some believers who know what it means to follow Christ while dealing with same-sex attractions.

"If it weren't for other people, I don't think I'd make it," Wesley Hill wrote.  "For me to live faithfully before God as a sexually-abstinent homosexual Christian must be to trust that God in Christ can meet me in my loneliness, not simply with God's own love, but with God's love mediated through the human faces and arms of my fellow believers."

Let's trust each other with our struggles -- and let's be worthy of that trust.


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