From the Pulpit, From the Heart

Members of the Knoxville religious community share their views on LGBT high schoolers

Knox County LGBT high schoolers are in a minority, but their struggles in high school reverberate throughout the majority of the local religious community. Four believers share their views on the issue:

"I've been Southern Baptist all my life, but when people say this is a choice for my son... Who chooses to be an outcast? Who wouldn't want to be accepted by everybody? God is so much bigger than we give him credit for. He made every one of us they way we are.

"I think people are just scared, like back when blacks and whites were first dating. But it's just too sad when they go and take their religion away from these kids.”

—Robin McLain, parent

“I do feel it is a lifestyle choice, as does my church. But if a person’s gay then they’re gay no matter what you say or do. It is their decision to make.

“I choose to not put myself in a position to judge them. I don’t feel it’s my place to approve or disapprove of their lifestyle. We all make lifestyle choices, both good and bad. I can’t say I really understand them, but live and let live, I guess.”

—Zoey, pseudonym for a Carter High School 11th grader

“We did have one gay teen attending our church on his own, singing in the choir, participating in programs and getting positive support and respect and seeing good role models. But his family found out and he had to stop coming.

"A lot of religious parents interpret a teen coming out as being rebellious, as if they've taken up drinking or smoking. It's just sad. We hear stories all the time of teens turned out of their homes just for identifying themselves as gay, with parents withdrawing emotional and financial support.

“People think it's a choice. I was married for 36 years, I chose to live a heterosexual life. I have always been gay.”

—Ray Neal, assistant pastor Knoxville Metropolitan Community Church, "a welcoming haven for the LGBT community"

“According to Scripture, God made us male and female. Some people have a tendency to believe they were born that way, homosexual or transgender or whatever. Now what I try to do is help everyone, no matter what their preference is. I'm going to try to help them, but still try to get them to see that according to Scripture this is a choice they've made.

“At Carter High School, which is in my community, there are only a few who are openly gay, but I think there are a whole lot more who struggle with it. I think a lot of the problem at high school isn't so much their sexual identity, but they don't know who they are. By the way they dress, the way they act, the way they talk, they're trying to figure out who they are. For those who are Christian, the Bible tells us in Christ who we are

“I'm fine with Knoxville having a harassment policy that spells out sexual orientation and gender identity. I think you're talking about a whole group of diverse people with diverse opinions and religious preferences, and they have to co-exist. Romans, chapter 1, verses 18-32. People can kind of read that and get an idea of what the Scripture says about it

“I think the difficulty we have in our churches across America is that we want to categorize the sin, 'Homosexuality is a much greater than that of lying or stealing.' But in Scripture, all sin is still a problem in God's eyes.

“The problem for us evangelicals especially is we want to attack the person and not the sin, when it should be the opposite.”

—Pastor Tim Tatum, Thorn Grove Baptist, Strawberry Plains

© 2008 MetroPulse. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

Comments » 2

TNPanMan writes:

I was in a religious gay celibate closet for 35 years -- I knew I was gay and just ignored my sexual orientation and hid. I can honestly say that I did nothing to make myself homosexual -- I was always this way. I have been a born-again Christian since 1981 and have always loved the Lord. I think the Christian church needs to examine the issue of same-sex attraction and orientation because the Bible is not condemning same-sex sexual orientation. For good Biblical scholarship on this -- take a look at: The mainline Christian churches also need to examine the issue of lifetime celibacy for homosexuals -- God never intended his children to remain celibate and to never enjoy intimacy!

BJG2386 writes:

In reading about homosexuality in high schools through the MP, what bothered me most is that there was no mention of what God teaches in the bible about this life choice - because that's exactly what it is - a choice. Plain and simply - being homosexual is a sin. Read the bible - God's Word to us. It's one of many sins - it's not THE ULTIMATE SIN. God considers all sins to be against His will. Someone mentioned they were told because he was homosexual, he was going to hell. Well, that's not what the bible teaches. The sin itself does not determine your eternal destiny. What determines this is whether you believe that Jesus Christ is your savior and that He died for your sins so you would have a way to be with God when you die. This is the only way to being with God eternally in Heaven. End of story. This is not conditional.

I think the danger in how we socially posture ourselves on this topic is what shapes future generations. Accepting this life style as another free choice is basically saying it's ok to be gay, when in God's eyes it's not ok. If you really love someone who is gay, then you should care more about where they end up in eternity, than what they have to deal with here on earth. Using the bible as an instruction manual, try and talk to them with love, not judgement. I have many gay friends at work and in church. I choose not to judge them, but to love them. I try and live by example to show them that because I am a Christian does not mean that I have the right to judge. I am certainly not perfect and cannot fault them for their poor life choices. What I can do, when I am given the opportunity, is to share what I know from God's Word. Then, all I can do is pray that God will save them too...

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