According to a study conducted by the Williams Institute of Law at UCLA, 3.5% of the adult population in the United States is comprised of Lesbian, gay, or bisexual people. In other words, about 9 million Americans identify as LGBT.
Nevertheless, within the nucleus of these people there is a major discord when it comes to religion. In fact, according to a recent Pew Research Center survey, 48% of LGBT members surveyed stated that they had no religion (this is more than double the percentage of the general public that says the same thing).
On the flip side, 51% of those surveyed stated that they did have religion with 17% claiming religion to be “very important” in their lives. This would be encouraging news for the exception that a third of those who said they were religious also claimed that there was “a conflict between their religious beliefs and their sexual orientation or gender identity.” Of course, this is really not all that surprising since the majority of the general public (74 % white evangelical protestants and 55 % of all U.S. adults with a religious affiliation) believe that “homosexuality conflicts with their religious beliefs”.
So why is this important?
Why does this matter?
For someone who is straight, this may not seem all that important. It’s difficult to pay attention to the sinful or otherwise strange behavior of a group of people who seem to only identify themselves via their sexual orientation. For someone who is straight, it may seem like a trivial thing for a group of people to be demonized, ostracized, or otherwise debased in the face of humanity while they stubbornly hold on to their erroneous view of a sexually charged lifestyle.
But for those who grow up without a choice in the matter it’s a completely different story. Those who in the early years of their lives find themselves attracted to the same sex will face discriminations, abuse, alienation, shame, and ridicule for the rest of their lives. Sadly, this is a fate that will not change for them as readily as a simple action of “repentance” or “sanctification”. No, these people are born into something they will forever struggle with (even those who claim to be “ex-gays”). For this group of people, a life of pain, stress, unfulfillment, and utter confusion is what awaits them. A life, that lead many to the ultimate cry: Self extermination. In fact, numerous studies show that the suicide rate amongst LGBT members is considerably higher when compared to the rest of the population. According to the U.S. government report entitled “Report of the Secretary’s Task Force on Youth Suicide” found that LGBT youths are four times more likely to attempt suicide.
It’s obvious that a large group of people are hurting and hurting badly. Nevertheless, the group that claims to have the answer, the hope, the way, or whatever else religious people claim to have, are the very ones that are causing the hurt to begin with. I know because I have been both the victim and the victimizer in this scenario. For 18 years I have had a “conflict of religion” with homosexuality. A struggle with something that I had been aware of since the age of 7. I came to know bible versus and prayers designed to help me deal with my struggle and before I even fully realized, I had associated something I could not change with something God wanted to change. Within my 18 years of faith so far I have been zealous for God and angry at God; loving life and, sadly, hating life (to the point where I too considered ending it).
This is a question i’ve asked myself many times. Why? Why me? What did I do? I didn’t ask for this, and quite frankly who would? But at the end of the day, here I am. I have not changed, and as I grow older the foolishness of attempting such change is overwhelmingly obvious, especially after this year.
And so, here I am. It’s time to get a few things straight with you people out there who keep claiming that homosexuality is a sin. Over the course of these few posts, I will share with you what has changed in the way I see homosexuality in the bible and why it’s so crucial for me to share it with you.
This isn’t about justifying my “sinful” lifestyle (though I know some of you will think so). This is about giving hope to those who have none. This is about revealing beauty where the church only sees death. This is about the truth setting you free, as opposed to binding you with the yolk of religiosity.
Won’t you come and take this journey with me? I want you to know what I know, and I want you to share it with those who are seeking God but feel as if God hates them. He doesn’t.
So tune in next week, as I start the discussion of “What does the Bible REALLY say about homosexuality”.