Tuesday, August 11th, 2015
A FaceBook friend recently posted a link to an article by John Piper adding the following statement:
“If we truly care about our homosexual friends and family members we will tell them the truth.”
John Piper’s post framed Satan’s power to destroy and the lies of Sodomy being acceptable. In my opinion, he focused so much on the power of Satan and the word Sodomy that God’s love, redemption, and life giving hope were absent. The picture John painted through intentional inflammatory statements appeared to be an attempt to try to scare people out of homosexuality.
I was so disturbed about my friend’s choice to link to John’s article, I felt compelled to write a response to them privately. Here’s what I wrote.
I continue to be torn by some things in our relationship and I’ve spent many hours pondering what I’ve been thinking and what to say. Somehow and for some reason our paths crossed and there was a connection. What connected me to you was what I saw in your compassionate heart. When we talked privately, I saw it! I heard it! But I’m experiencing a conflict. When I see you publish links to these kinds of things, it contradicts who I’ve known you to be.
I am likely going to un-follow your posts. I have never chosen to do this with anyone before. I don’t want to un-friend you, because I love you and deeply care about you. But when I read things like you’ve posted, it feels like death in my spirit. By your words and your posts, I can only assume you are attempting to speak to your gay friends or religious leaders you deem to be losing their edge of truth.
“We must search for words to describe the horrors of the tragedy around us. For it is flaming with destruction worse than any inflammatory words can express.” John Piper
The true horrors that I’ve seen stem from the terrible separation in relationships between LGBT people and their loved ones. The tragedy I see is the damage in the souls in LGBT people from religious condemnation. The flaming destruction I see is the terrifying loneliness and despair that is experienced by many LGBT people.
Regarding John Piper’s writing, is it really the heart of God to scare people out of what is deemed sinful? Is it representative of the God we believe in, to manipulate people with fear? (As if there isn’t already enough fear in many forms of religion). Its bad biblical reflection and history to base an entire article about homosexuality on the word Sodomy; a word falsely used to accuse and condemn men who are gay. A word that misrepresents the bible writing, based on a city that the Bible says was destroyed for brutality, threats of rape and inhospitality. It does not relate to homosexual marriage AT ALL! John Piper has gotten his interpretation of Sodomy from the dictionary, which is not biblical!
I’ve never believed in a God that would abuse those that are beloved, as this man has done in his writing. I do not believe in a God of retribution, tortuous judgment, or irrational punishment. I believe in a God that has redeemed and is fully capable to restore. God, in my belief, does not have to punish in the ways we understand as human beings. I’ve seen tremendous restoration in people’s lives through love, acceptance and mercy. The Bible does say it is God’s kindness that produces repentance.
I’ve finally given myself freedom from that kind of controlling and abusive religion. I have never believed in that way of thinking no matter where I’ve served, or what church I’ve followed. I might add that I believe many of the teachings I’ve tried to grasp on this subject have been in error, thus its no wonder I couldn’t wrap my arms around them.
Every article you promote that is anything like John Piper’s that write condemning things from a religious perspective is killing your gay brother’s heart. This is the theology that is keeping your parents bound in their own guilt and shame. It’s imprisoning you in something that is not in any way akin to what I believe to be your real heart of love and compassion. This doesn’t fit you, or your kind-hearted soul.
Hmm, is it possible that this (the judgment, condemnation and separatism of LBGT people from church communities) is in fact the destructive satanic lie that is also separating families, creating intensive fear for their gay friends and their love ones? The result of this line of thinking creates nothing but broken relationships and estrangement from others. This is not my understanding of the fruit of following God. It reminds me of the terrible brokenness and pain that has arisen from the shunning practiced by the Jehovah’s Witnesses in my own extended family.
From what I’ve seen in the last several years, the very line of thought that John Piper is writing from reflects the death producing outcome that he is claiming will come to gay people. Quite to the contrary, I’m seeing life coming to gay people who are finally finding the freedom to love God and receive God’s redemptive spirit into their lives. Rather than the destruction stemming from the condemnation of gay people coming from the likes of John Piper, I’m seeing the fruit of the spirit coming to the gay community.
I’ve been deeply troubled about these things for a long time. I finally realized that the links you’ve been posting do not fit what I see in you! It’s not in alignment with the love you truly have for people. I don’t believe, therefore, it is in alignment with God. At least it is not in alignment with the God I’ve always known and continue to believe in and follow.
Frankly, John Piper’s writing disgusts me. I’m completely aghast by a self-righteous presentation of judgment and fear. I’m tired of sanctimonious and exhausting writings of condemnation for homosexual people and the freedom to marry. Why isn’t there equal time and passion given to a warning against greed?
As I’ve known, and loved God for my entire life, based on the fear that was preached, I’ve finally realized that I took a desperately wrong turn when I entered ExGay ministry. That decision in 1986 took me down a very destructive path, which cost me dearly in so many ways that cannot be relived.
I was desperate for help with my depression. I was living a very confusing life of compulsive behavior. I was looking for direction and help. Instead of finding freedom, I was led to a prison of self-hatred, condemnation, and confusion that I attempted to sort out for over 25 years, with no resolution. I was never shown the true heart of the Bible’s exhortation against exploitation and usury vs. the potential of a faithful loving relationship with a man. I was led to marry a woman with a faith promise from people around me that “God” would help me work it out. My marriage was never natural and I was always full of anxiety from my attempts to conform to the teaching I heard that God would change me. Lives were wounded, destroyed, and now have to find a way to heal from the deception.
For my many years in ExGay ministry I was conflicted in my desire to be compassionate and I was led to believe I had to learn how to challenge, to judge, to speak prophetically into people’s lives against their natural homosexuality in order to “save” their souls! Against my very heart, I represented a facet of God that I didn’t believe in! I often sat in my quiet times questioning my motives, my practice and my faith. I truly wanted to love people fully, but something was greatly amiss! I couldn’t figure out what it was.
When I finally separated from the churches that I followed, it all came to make sense. It was wrong for me. It was false, it was fear based, it was anti-love and pro-judgment. So much of the preaching and culture I experienced was based on the “fear” of hell, and in many cases the “fear” of losing a connection with God through our behaviors. It was teaching, in my opinion, on a false interpretation of God and a grandiose representation of man!
The religion that John Piper, and sadly many others, is preaching is death to me. It does not lead me to God, it does not encourage my faith, and it does not bring me to sorrow for my “so called” sin. It doesn’t do that for any gay people unless they are tempted to believe God is going to smite them and their response to submission is based on fear. Sadly, I’ve seen a lot of the fear based “repentance” in my days.
It’s in my opinion a disastrous pulpit and one that tortures the soul.
I received a gracious response from my friend. I still see their compassionate heart but find it troubling that this belief system is still a binding facet of their life. This is part of their response to me.
“I, along with most Christians, understand and agree with the position John Piper takes. I know some are buckling under the intense pressure our culture puts on them, but many, like me are not.”
I understand there are many who believe as my friend does. I spent many years in the same belief system. But I would have to disagree with one point. I do not believe “most” Christians agree with John Piper’s points. The grace of God and the loving redemption is impacting many who have called themselves Christian. I also believe that the love that is beginning to shine through the LGBT community is revealing many things about God’s steadfast love.