|Loving Homosexuals as Jesus Would: A Fresh Christian Approach|
Chad W. Thompson
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In this book, Chad Thompson, a formerly gay man, calls Christians to disarm the gay community by "loving first". Drawing from the life and words of Jesus, Thompson teaches readers how to love and befriend homosexuals before they change - and even if they never change - their sexual orientation. He addresses in detail many common questions surrounding homosexuality: Is being gay a choice, or is it genetically determined?; Can homosexuals change their orientation?; If so, how does it happen? This book includes an appendix of additional resources as well as a useful list of endnotes for the benefit of therapists or any Christian struggling with the controversy over homosexuality.
|Christianbook.com: Thank you for taking the time to speak with us. Can you begin by telling us a little bit about your story?|
Chad Thompson: I was only in fourth grade when I realized that I was attracted to men. I remember hearing my Sunday school teacher say that all homosexuals go to hell and so I thought that I would. The first time I heard someone say they had changed their sexual orientation was on the Oprah Winfrey show, but the audience was skeptical and so was I.
As time went by, I began to realize that homosexual attractions by themselves were not enough to make me a homosexual. I also learned that my same-sex attractions were not really a desire for sex, rather; they represented a desire for non-sexual love and affirmation from someone of my own gender. This need resulted from a childhood of rejection and isolation from my same-sex counterparts.
I’ve found that as I experience non-sexual love and intimacy from my own gender, my homosexual desires fade. In fact, the most healing experience I’ve had since realizing that I didn’t have to be gay was meeting a man named Lenny Carluzzi who walked away from homosexuality 28 years ago. He now lives in Seattle, Washington with a beautiful wife, two kids, and a dog named Grumpy.
When I first met Lenny at an Italian restaurant in Chicago, he instantly wrapped his arms around me, looked me in the eye, and told me that he loved me. That moment was the beginning of my healing process and, since then, God has put dozens of men in my life to provide the non-sexual love and affirmation that I need in order to change. Because of this, I have experienced extraordinary victory over my homosexual desires.
Many books have been written about the process of overcoming homosexual attractions. Scholars have debated, and scientific papers have been published in major scientific journals. But for me, the start of this process was very simple. I just needed to be loved.
A few years ago, I started an organization called Inqueery (www.Inqueery.com) in hopes of opening more doors for me to tell my story. But Inqueery does not exist to condemn homosexuals who are happy with their sexual orientation. We are merely throwing our hat into the arena of ideas by advocating for a non-biased discussion of homosexuality in the public school setting (see chapter four of my book).
|Christianbook.com: Although there are a few notable exceptions, most Christians desire to express Christ's love for the gay, lesbian, bisexual and transgendered or 'LGBT' community. What are the major 'roadblocks' that keep us from expressing this love?|
Chad Thompson: There is little question that God’s people desire to show love to homosexually oriented people. The roadblock to action, it seems, is the ability to discern how and when to do so. I was amazed as I listened to the Christian mother of a gay child talk about what she had learned at a Christian conference on homosexuality. She said: “I feel like I have finally been given permission to love my gay son.” While I thought her discovery was wonderful, I had to ask myself: What in the world ever made her think that she couldn’t love her gay son?
I hope this book will give parents, friends, co-workers, and acquaintances of openly gay, and formerly gay people, once and for all, permission to love them without reserve. It is also my hope that this book will effectively show them how to show love.
Another roadblock for people is fear. The gospel of John tells us that perfect love casts out fear, but many Christians fear homosexual people. I think that it’s natural for people to fear that which they don’t understand, and the subject of homosexuality seems very mysterious and even disgusting to people at times. The heterosexual person looks at the homosexual and asks: Why would anyone want to do what they do? It’s actually a good question. For this reason, I have dedicated a few chapters in the book to explaining the roots and causes of homosexuality. Once we understand homosexuality, hopefully, we won’t fear homosexual people as much.
As God’s people, we have the capacity to unconditionally love people who are, or have been, homosexual. But to do so, we must abandon the hypocrisy, and the unreasonable fear that holds us back from fully and truly embracing these people in a way that rivals that of the secular world. That’s what my book is about.
|Christianbook.com: Early in the book, you state that the "human brain is far too complex to explain homosexual development with a single theory" (pg. 19). Can you briefly explain the genetic and environmental factors that contribute to homosexual development?|
Chad Thompson: That’s quite a question. It was hard for me to condense the answer to that question down to two chapters in my book, and now I have to do it in two paragraphs!
As you mentioned, the human brain is far too complex for there to be a single theory that can explain homosexual development. However, some interesting discoveries have been made about the influence that a child’s early relationships can have on his or her sexual orientation.
As children, we all need to identify with other people of the same sex. This means that a boy must become familiar with other boys and a girl must become familiar with other girls. For example, if a boy has a strong relationship with his father and with his male peers, he will become very familiar with other boys. By the time this boy reaches puberty, other boys will seem familiar and boring to him. At this point, the boy will become curious about, and attracted to, girls.
Dr. Joseph Nicolosi wrote: “We do not sexualize what we identify with; when we identify with someone, we are no longer sexually attracted to them. It is always to the other-than-ourselves that we are drawn.” Therefore, a child who does not have strong relationships with members of his or her own gender may develop an unnatural curiosity towards them that becomes sexualized at puberty. This is why children who sense rejection from their same-sex parents or peers sometimes experience homosexual attractions later in life; they didn’t bond adequately with their own gender and so there is this longing to connect that becomes sexual during adolescence.
In reference to the question about genetics, some people believe that homosexuality is determined purely by genetics (aka: the “gay gene” theory), others believe that homosexuality is determined purely by environment and that genetics plays no role at all. However, most researchers have come to the conclusion that sexual orientation is likely determined by a complex interaction between a person's genetic make-up and their environment. What I mean by this is that genetics can influence sexual orientation to the degree that they are able to influence our environment.
For example, a boy who is born with a genetic predisposition to sensitivity may be at greater risk of getting made fun of by his schoolmates. This boy may get called names like “fag” or “dyke,” which can become a self-fulfilling prophecy. Growing up in a culture that calls sensitive attributes “feminine” or "sissy" makes the essential task of bonding with one's same-gender peers extremely difficult for boys with these attributes.
|Christianbook.com: In contrast to the beliefs of many homosexual groups and the advice of many therapists you believe that homosexuals can overcome same-sex attractions. Can you give us a basic idea of what is required to overcome homosexual attraction?|
Chad Thompson: When you consider that homosexuality is caused by an inability to identify with one’s gender during childhood, it only makes sense that the struggler’s success at eliminating homosexual attractions will depend on his or her ability to retrieve this identification and affirmation later in life.
As I mentioned in the answer to question one, as I have reconnected with my own gender through close, but non-sexual friendships with other men, my homosexual attractions have begun to fade away. In the book I outline three basic mechanisms that I have used to facilitate non-sexual intimacy with other men. They are surrogacy (or substitute parenthood), physical touch (non-sexual hugs), and camaraderie (or friendship). I describe these things in much more detail in the book, as well as give examples from my own life.
|Christianbook.com: How can we help our family members, friends and brothers and sisters in Christ who are struggling with homosexual attraction and are trying to change? |
Chad Thompson: I think the answer to this question is an easy one, it’s the specifics that people get confused about. You asked: “How can we help our homosexually struggling loved ones?” The answer is obviously that we need to love them. But how specifically does one do that? In my book I explain, in very concrete and practical terms, how one can go about loving their homosexually struggling friends and family members.
Randy Newman of Campus Crusade for Christ tells the story of a young man named Jim who was struggling with homosexuality. Jim was debating whether or not he should tell members of his campus fellowship about his struggle, but when another student in the group requested prayer for his gay roommate, the groups’ director offered condemnation of homosexuality, instead of offering prayer for the roommate. Newman said: “Jim told us he decided, then and there, that this was not a safe place to talk about his homosexuality.”
When discussing the subject of homosexuality with people, we should use words that reveal our genuine concern for those who are struggling with their sexual identities. This will send the message to those around us that it is safe for them to talk to us about their sexuality. It’s likely that every church has a least a few people who are struggling with homosexual attractions, yet many suffer in silence for fear or being rejected by their Christian brothers and sisters. In order for Homosexual strugglers to receive the kind of non-sexual love they need in order to heal the wounds of their past, they must first be able to share their struggle with those around them. I think that’s a good place to start.
|Christianbook.com: Late in the book you share the experience of one gay man who confessed that it was "easier for me to get sex on the streets than to get a hug in church" (pg. 134). That is a shocking indictment of a church that was founded by a Savior who openly embraced lepers and regularly associated with "tax collectors and sinners." What are some practical ways that the church can embrace the LGBT community with the love of Christ without compromising the truth of scripture?|
Chad Thompson: Many Christians have used the phrase “hate the sin, love the sinner” to describe their attitude toward LGBT people. While there is plenty of evidence that Christians “hate the sin,” one must wonder, how does the love manifest itself? How should the love manifest itself?
In order for Christians to be effective, we must use not only our words, but also our hands, feet, mind, heart, voice, time, resources, and attention to show our love to people who identify as LGBT. I hear a lot of Christians talking about the importance of loving our lesbian and gay neighbors, but very rarely has anyone offered specifics. Because specifics are never offered, it seems like nothing ever gets done! For this reason, I wrote an entire chapter that outlines tangible things that people can do in order to show love. I’ll share a few straight out of the book:
- I have always thought there to be something profoundly genuine about being invited into someone’s home for a meal. Anyone can attend a rally, or pass out a tract, but inviting someone into your home is so deeply personal that it will be hard for anyone to discount your sincerity.
- Attend a gay pride rally in your city, not to politically demonstrate against homosexuals, but simply to build relationships with them! For the past few years, I have attended the gay pride parade in Des Moines simply to pass out cold water and pizza to the lesbian and gay people in attendance.
- Assemble a group from your church that is willing to make a trip to their local hospital at least once a month to comfort AIDS patients. This does not have to be rocket science, just take them a can of pop or some soup, ask them how they are doing, and then let them know how much God loves them! (You may have to undergo volunteer training through the hospital before gaining admittance.)
- If you personally know someone who is dying of AIDS, offer financial assistance, as unemployment is the eventual consequence of AIDS. HIV and AIDS patients are often over burdened by a decrease in income, and an increase in medical bills, especially those who don’t have insurance.
|Christianbook.com: Over the past couple of years, there has been a good deal of controversy surrounding homosexual education in the public schools. How can we provide our children with a compassionate understanding of homosexuality that will both guard them from the sin of homophobia and provide hope that homosexuals can change?|
Chad Thompson: There is a chapter in the book dedicated to discussing how Christians should handle the issue of homosexuality in the schools. In summary, whenever gay advocacy groups enter the public schools to teach kids about homosexuality they do so under the mantra of combating the prejudice and ridicule of LGBT students. However, many of their programs also affirm the students’ decision to identify as gay or lesbian, and some even encourage it. For this reason, each time one of these homosexual groups enters a school somewhere Christians cry “propaganda!” And we are right, it is propaganda. What we have failed to recognize, however, is that even though many of these programs are dangerous and misleading, they are meeting a real need for LGBT students.
For example, one gay advocacy group has created an in-school support group called the “Gay/Straight Alliance” (GSA) which provides a safe environment for young people who otherwise have nowhere to go for support when dealing with their sexuality.
Christians could start groups that offer gay and lesbian kids a safe place to discuss their struggle, minus the gay affirming mentality. But instead what I see coming from many in the Christian community is vehement opposition to the political agenda of groups like these, occasionally followed by a casual admission that gay kids shouldn’t get beat up. But nobody on our side is actually doing anything about it, and some won’t even acknowledge that it’s a real problem.
In short, gay activists have the lie packaged in tangible solutions for the struggles faced by LGBT students, and Christians have the truth packaged in a laissez-faire admission of their sufferings. Is it any wonder the lie is winning?
(Note: For information and resources to address homosexuality in the public schools from a Christian perspective, visit Chad’s website at www.Inqueery.com)
|Christianbook.com: At present, many Christians are quite upset about the legalization of homosexual marriage. How can we develop a Christian response to this issue that both upholds biblical truth and shows respect for the LGBT community?|
Chad Thompson: When approaching matters of public policy, trying to have a discussion with someone who is lesbian or gay is like trying to play a game of baseball with a team who is on a completely different field. This is because each side is basing their arguments on completely different assumptions about homosexuality. Many Christians view homosexuality as a behavior that can be altered, but most homosexuals view it as an immutable identity.
If I was a homosexual who honestly believed that my orientation was unchangeable, I think I would probably view conservative Christians as bigots, just as many of them do. My suggestion is that, no matter where you stand on the issue of gay marriage, try to keep the homosexual’s perspective in mind at all times, it will make it easier to show love.
If we really want to enter the homosexuals’ world, and become flesh for them as Jesus did for us, we must try to put ourselves in their shoes when it comes to issues like gay marriage. Instead of looking at lesbian and gay people through the world’s eyes, we need to look at the world through their eyes.
Thank you for taking the time to talk to us Chad! For more information on Chad’s book visit LovingHomosexuals.com.