Very interesting news today from Drew Justice, the singer of Knoxville pop punk band On My Honor. Drew has come out as gay via a personal blog which you can read in its entirity below. The post seems to be partially in response to statements made by Mike Reynolds, formerly of Alabama Christian metalcore group For Today.
“It goes without saying, that the issue of gay marriage is on every newsfeed imaginable at the moment, particularly following Phil Robertson’s surfaced comments. I see as many posts about readers being “tired of hearing about it” as I do cries of support or combative rebuttals. I personally find it odd that anyone is “outraged” or truly reactive at all to the star of a modern-day reality-show version of The Beverly Hillbillies having an opposition to homosexual life. One side-effect of social media and the Internet’s ability to spread information however, certainly seems to be that everyone gets their own soap-box. While I’m not saying that comments of this nature should go unaddressed, that won’t be the focus of this writing.
Not long ago, Mike Reynolds, formerly of the band For Today, made the comment that “there is no such thing as a gay Christian.” Just last week, in what seemed to be a well-intentioned essay, the band’s frontman Mattie Montgomery, issued a psuedo-apology, not only on behalf of the band (which Reynolds is no longer a part of), but the Christian community as well. While Montgomery’s statement went further to address the shortcomings and hypocrisy within the Church, it never thoroughly touched on the idea of a “gay Christian.” The frontman did comment that he could not “support the homosexual agenda in our nation,” saying he has “never heard a homosexual couple tell (him) that the reason they are together is because, out of a place of devotion to the Lord in prayer and scripture study, (The Lord) commanded them to be together.”
I have never met Montgomery, and I dare say most of my gay friends haven’t either. I can’t and wont speak for every couple, but I was recently fortunate enough to witness the wedding of a close friend of mine to his same-sex partner and now husband—a ceremony in which their belief that God brought them together was mentioned on multiple occasions. They love each other and that is very clear. My friend is gay. My friend is a Christian.
I say none of this with the intent to attack any individual’s beliefs, similar to my own or not. My concern is for those who are dealing with the issue in their own life, every day—the people of my generation and others who find themselves torn between feeling and belief. Not long ago, I found myself in the same situation.
I am gay, and I am a Christian.
To Reynolds and many others, this seems to be a paradox. As a teenager, it did to me as well. I had the feelings and in a way always knew, but continued to make excuses. “Surely it’s a phase,” “I’m confused,” “If I was, I would know and be open about it,” and of course, “I can’t be gay, I’m a Christian.” The odd part is that I never had a true opposition to homosexuality. Even when I was quite young, I can remember supporting the idea of gay marriage, especially in a nation that supposedly does not discriminate based on religion. By high school, I openly supported the LGBT movement, but I still had work to do in myself. I’ll spare the details, but by 23 I felt that I had finally come to understand myself in those regards and began letting my friends know, oftentimes apologizing for the fact that it took me as long as it did to be completely honest with myself and with them. Both of my parents found out within the last year. I never had any video confessional or major blog “coming out” for everyone, as I didn’t see the point. There were no suddenly shattered closet doors, illuminating fireworks or loud bells magically ringing, as nothing really changed, other than my acceptance of myself.
I sing in a band that exists in a debatable subculture—an extension of “punk rock” and whatever that has come to mean to those who hold it dear. In and out of that community, I have had many conversations about both my faith and my sexuality. What concerns me now is the constant “us v. them” created on this topic by both sides. To be totally honest, I couldn’t care less about most people’s opinions of homosexuality being a sin, whether they view it as one or not. So many aspects of Christianity are placed under a microscope and schisms in the Church are an undeniable happening. It’s always been this way in Christianity. Even the apostles had differing views on the regiments of marriage and sex; it’s no surprise that Christians today are the same. Being a part of this “punk rock community,” it’s easy to find support for the gay community, and that’s something I’m thankful for. While this world that I love and exist in certainly has more of a secular population, I’m no less Christian for being a part of it, and I have rarely felt ostracized for my beliefs. More times than not, it has led to solid conversation and debate among friends of mine with different views on the matter—welcoming, understanding-seeking conversations. If you refuse to have or acknowledge those conversations, growth is impossible.
So, why is it that so many assert that people have to be one or the other—gay OR Christian? Is it conviction from the Christian view that homosexuality is (debatably) a sin? Even the UberFacts twitter account has mentioned many times that eating shellfish is referred to as an abomination four times more frequently than homosexuality in the Bible. Are we really at a point in which a neutral social media account cares more about the literalness of a text than those who are supposed to be living it? Or maybe many “followers” aren’t doing enough investigating of their own. The Leviticus verses describing homosexuality as an “abomination” are contested by many Biblical scholars to possibly be referring to acts of ritualistic sex, abandoned with much of Old Testament law. Yet for some reason, more people swarm with support to create a camouflage-clad martyr than to investigate and take a second look at their beliefs on their own. When I say that I’m a Christian, I mean that I am a part of a faith, deeply personalized, that emphasizes loving others and doing good above all else. Sure there’s more to it than that, but hopefully most Christians would agree with Christ’s detailing of his “greatest commandment” being “Love thy neighbor as thyself.”
Recently, I read Justin Lee’s book Torn: Rescuing the Gospel from the Gays-vs.-Christian Debate. In his book, Lee describes his own experience growing up in an active, Christian community and coming to accept himself as a gay man. More importantly, Torn addresses the Church’s handling of such things—the ineffectiveness of many ex-gay ministry groups like Exodus International and the growing divide between a faith-community and the homosexual world. Lee asserts that much of the problem is rooted in both sides’ inabilities to understand the other. To me, Christianity is about welcoming and loving those who need somewhere to go. Punk rock in it’s idealist form, means the same to me.
My story however, is atypical. I’ve experienced little to no exclusivity from either side personally. My friends were supportive, and I have been lucky to come from a family that loves me and seeks to discuss and understand any differences in our views on the matter. In the world of social media, things are quite different I’m afraid. The internet can be a hostile place, and comments like those made by For Today’s ex-guitarist concern me. People see what you post, and they may not always have as sound of a grasp on who they are as you may believe they should.
Your words have an impact, like it or not. Calling someone out with hateful language has an effect, and rarely a positive one. Our guitarist, Lucas, said it best: “Calling someone an idiot and yelling at them from on high is no way to bring someone around to your point of view.” This goes for both sides. Comments like Reynolds’ serve only to ostracize those who are already unsure and struggling. This sort of absoluteness and separatism is damaging to homosexuals, damaging to Christians, damaging to human beings, and particularly damaging to those who are trying to reconcile their feelings with their beliefs.
You know how you feel, and you know what you believe. Those elements create the person you are, and no one can rob of you of that. Approach it all with love, and take that with you wherever you see fit. Take care of each other.
As anyone who knows me at all can attest, I am by no means looking to impose my religion or orientation on anyone, and I’d like to end with a quote from Fred Rogers, better know to most as “Mr. Rogers.” Rogers was a part of a “More Light” congregation in Pittsburgh, a part of the Presbyterian Church. When asked to denounce homosexuality, his simple response?
“God loves you just as you are.””
Add On My Honor to My Radar