How I Came to Support Same-Sex Marriage, Part 3: “Am I Going to Hell?”

By | February 5, 2014

My friend looked at me across the table. “I always had in mind that, like a good Christian girl, I would marry the one man I loved someday. I had a list of requirements, and he had to love Jesus as the first thing.”

I was listening, watching my dear friend’s face and knowing something heavy was about to drop. She hesitated when she told me her confusion at her recent experience: “I finally met that person, but it wasn’t a man. It was a woman. I think I might be bisexual…does that mean I’m going to hell?”

So many thoughts flooded my mind, because my conscience was at war with itself. I had ended this discussion, determined not to find an answer because it didn’t matter because I wasn’t gay. The Bible said homosexuality was wrong, but I hadn’t really studied it much. As for eternal damnation, I wasn’t sure because there were other things in those verses Christians choose to overlook, like coveting and extorting.

I also knew that of the two choices before me – to show love to my friend in her time of need or to feed her a message I would be repeating from other sources about how she was going to hell – the former was winning. I felt a strong urge from the Holy Spirit to be honest with her, and that honesty was that I didn’t have an answer, but I could be a friend.

The result was a weird conversation where I just kept asking her questions so she could let it all out. I could at least be a listener and hear her story, and ask about the woman she was attracted to. I told her the attraction wasn’t a sin, but I hadn’t found an answer yet about whether getting into a lesbian relationship was Biblically acceptable.

One thing I couldn’t bring myself to say was that she wasn’t welcome as my sister in Christ because she was sinning. I might have half-believed it at the time, but I couldn’t bring myself to say it.

I chose to accept my friend anyway. To me, this is the simplest message of any post in this series: to warn people of hell may or may not be my job. I know for a fact that Jesus commanded to love people first.

I watched the first Pirates of the Caribbean film with my friends a few days ago, and one line stood out painfully to me, because I was in the process of writing this series.

Captain Jack Sparrow has been imprisoned, and the crew of the Black Pearl is attacking. The ghosts come into the dungeon, and Sparrow says, “Worry about your own fortunes, gentlemen. The deepest circle of hell is reserved for betrayers and mutineers.”

One of the Black Pearl pirates reveals himself to be a ghost, meaning he’s living with a curse, and retorts, “you know nothing of hell.”

Regardless of where I ended up standing on the issue of homosexuality, I knew from watching the way people acted around my friend that she was quickly becoming an outcast. She went to church, and the pastor would carelessly say uninformed things about homosexuals, without actually helping her deal with what she was going through.

In an attempt to keep people from hell, the church is not just abandoning love. It is creating a living hell for the people it casts out. When my friend asked me if she was going to hell, I struggled to find a satisfactory answer, but for myself I focused on loving her. A few months later, I did the same thing when another friend told me she’d become an atheist.

As I’ve become more aware of the issue of homosexual people in the church, I hear the stories of being cast out again and again, and it sounds like that line from the Pirates movie. The church says, “You will go to hell because of what you are,” and the voices of children who have no allies and feel no love from their own families and circles of friends reply, “you know nothing of hell. I go through hell every day because you say you know God, but I can’t feel that love through you at all.”

I began testing the waters by posting about the issue on Facebook. I got hateful comments just for asking my fellow Christians if they would hide gay people from a government who wanted to hurt them. I wasn’t even taking a position – I hadn’t fully formed one – and that was enough to make me an outcast. I could only imagine how much worse it would be if I were gay myself, and for those comments to be directed at me personally.

What made me conflicted when I had that first conversation with a friend coming out to me wasn’t God. It was my societally constructed conscience. This distinction helped me take the next step and finally go back to the Bible for answers.

I will end this series with a video addressing questions and comments, so please leave your thoughts here on my blog, or on Twitter (@cynthiajeub) or Facebook (Insights on Epic Living).

Part 1 | Part 2 | Part 3 | Part 4 | Part 5 | Part 6

  • Tom

    Hey Cynthia!

    Time constraints prevent me from more fully grappling with
    everything you say in this posts. A few quick thoughts though, respond
    at your leisure.

    To me, this sounds like a MASSIVE straw man:

    “Gay Christians – both those who choose to remain celibate and those who
    pursue same-sex marriages alike – are turning to a deeper understanding
    of God, the Bible, and putting into action the command to “love one
    another,” and are bridging gaps between divisions in belief. The
    anti-gay church, by contrast, is casting out their brothers and sisters
    who identify as gay, regardless of their lifestyle choices. Which of
    these two groups has redefined God? Which of these two groups is turning
    to selfishness?”

    Whether you meant to or not with that paragraph, it seems to me like you are making sweeping generalizations about the vast majority of your brothers and sisters in Christ. I would contend that the majority of Christians would act in a loving manner when confronted by a loved one struggling with same sex attraction. Unfortunately, that doesn’t sell newspapers. What we see instead is the
    reactionary evangelical right hating on gay people just for being gay. I feel that you are falling into a trap of disinformation if this is all you see, your own anecdotes aside.

    The argument is furthermore moot. The presence of Christians who act poorly towards homosexuals does not negate the validity of Christ’s message: redemption from our sinful desires, whatever they may be.

    You say it may not be our job to warn people about Hell. I’m curious, where is this mentality coming from? If you see people headed for eternal torment, is it not your duty to warn them? Is not the truly hate-filled act to remain silent?

    I am worried that Christians refrain from difficult conversations out of fear, not out of sincere conviction to the contrary. I worry that those who do undertake such conversations are branded as “hateful,” when their motivations are the exact opposite.

    I’m worried because when we preach a gospel of loving consent, we preach a gospel that Jesus never did. His burden is easy and his yoke is light, but at the same time, it will costs us everything we have in this life.

    • cynthiajeub

      I’ll just respond to your points in the order you gave them:
      -Straw men – I’m not giving anecdotes, I’m addressing a mindset, and the mindset of mainstream evangelical Christianity is to exclude gay people and remain ignorant of the fact that their own children may be gay, and they did not choose to be gay.
      -“Redemption of our sinful desires” may very well be a promise from Christ, but gay Christians have consistently testified that this is not the case for them. See my analysis on Romans 1 in part 4 of this series.
      -Hell – further discussion in earlier posts here on my blog, just search for “hell” in the search area on the upper right.
      -Fear – I wouldn’t have started this conversation if I was ruled by fear about it…I was scared to death to bring it up, and you’re right that Christians refrain from difficult conversations out of fear.
      -Eternity and the gospel of Jesus – Christ said he came to give life abundantly, but never distinguished between the present and the afterlife in that promise. When he says it will cost us everything we have in this life, it means there are sacrifices, but it will lead to a more abundant life, which begins here on earth, bringing the Kingdom of Heaven.

  • Truth Seeker

    Response to How I Came to Support Same-Sex Marriage Part 3: Hell on Earth

    Cynthia, my sister, how incredibly admirable of you! I am so enthused with the fact that you lovingly accepted your friend. The way in which you dealt with the matter was superb. Honesty, interest, and love. I can say that I completely agree with you on this whole post. The church is far to hasty in convicting and outcasting those who are gay! I cannot express my outrage at the way the church treats these people, my friends. They have become the brunt of every joke, the subject of every uninformed conversation, and the insult of every straight person. I cannot count the times that people have come to me with the confessions “I cut myself,” “I am depressed,” “I am suicidal,” “I am addicted to porn,” and “I use drugs.” My response is always similar to yours, reacting in love, listening, but then providing advice (these subjects are much more familiar to me than homosexuality). The incredible thing is the Church happily assists addicts and perverts in their struggles. However, as soon as someone is labeled gay, they are rejected, and forced to deal with that rejection alone, completely isolated. It is enough to make me sick!

    As far as the point of hell as the consequence of being gay, no way! Hell is preserved for those who do not choose to give their lives whole heartily to Christ. People who struggle with the previously stated sins are just as likely to go to hell as those who are gay. Listen up Church! I am sick of your two faced actions, your lack of compassion, and your hypocrisy. However, Cynthia, the comment posted at the bottom of this part had a good point. There are a large number of Christians who are loving toward those who are gay, and your sweeping generalization is invalid, not to mention your excessive reliance on personal experience. Though a lot of people in the Church are harsh toward gays, it is also encouraging to see those who are willing to step out and help them.

    Would I hide gay people from a government trying to hurt them? ABSOLUTELY! In fact, I would let them take me, or kill me first, instead of the people that I am hiding.

  • anonymous

    I recently went to a “gay” wedding for a very religious couple (together 11 years and finally able to be married). They were married by their pastor. Their children and families were there. At one point, my friend thanked his partner for allowing him to believe that the dream of “children, family, and a home and the ‘Leave it to Beaver’ life was possible.” They are very devout and live their lives just as a “heterosexual” couple would. I am an atheist, but I really appreciate Christians who can truly live the principles they preach. Jesus was supposedly accepting and loving and that is so rarely demonstrated by the devout populous. I appreciate your tenacity and will to put your story out there. All I wish for the people in my life is love and happiness. That comes in so many forms, and everyone deserves to love and to be loved. I think you are a very brave young woman.