Monday, July 1, 2013

Gay, evangelical and seeking acceptance in church

From The AP (via Kansas)

Evangelicals are being challenged to change their views of gays and lesbians, and the pressure isn't coming from the gay rights movement or watershed court rulings: Once silent for fear of being shunned, more gay and lesbian evangelicals are speaking out about how they've struggled to reconcile their beliefs and sexual orientation.

Students and alumni from Christian colleges have been forming gay and lesbian support groups - a development that even younger alumni say they couldn't have imagined in their own school years. Gay evangelicals have published memoirs that prod traditional Christians to re-examine how they think about gays and lesbians. Among the most recent is Jeff Chu's "Does Jesus Really Love Me? A Gay Christian's Pilgrimage in Search of God in America." Paul Southwick, a gay evangelical attorney in Oregon, has started an "It Gets Better" style video project, "On God's Campus: Voices from the Queer Underground," with testimonials from gays and lesbians at the Christian schools.

The goals of these activists and writers vary. Some argue monogamous same-sex marriages are consistent with traditional Bible views and hope to remain in conservative churches. Others agree with traditional teaching on marriage and have committed to staying celibate for life, but are speaking out because they feel demonized within their communities.

Whatever their aims, they are already having an impact.

"There are a growing number of us who grew up hearing a certain origin story about our same-sex attraction that didn't resonate with us," said Wesley Hill, 32, who teaches at a conservative Anglican seminary, Trinity School for Ministry in Pennsylvania, and wrote the book "Washed and Waiting: Reflections on Christian Faithfulness and Homosexuality." "We are wanting to have conversations that older generations of evangelicals haven't had or haven't wanted to have."

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