What I Wish I Could Say to Matt Moore, Recently Outed, “Ex-gay” Evangelical
When this news story broke on Gawker, I felt an emotion I didn’t expect to feel. Extreme sadness. Not the righteous vindication that usually washes over me when someone who has publicly spoken out against the gay community gets outed for being gay themselves (say, a toe-tapping Republican senator.)
But when I saw Matt’s face staring at me from the Grindr caption, I just wanted to cry for him. And hug him. Why? Because he reminds me so much of my friends I love, who got me into this whole crazy world of faith based LGBT activism. I was reminded why it’s so incredibly important for me, a married straight woman, to not stop fighting until people like Matt no longer feel the need to say things like this:
I was going to have to renounce Christ and choose sin, or I was going to have to humble myself and repent.
It breaks my heart into a thousand frustrated pieces to read that. I hate that Matt was raised to believe that he had to choose between the love of Christ, and seven verses in the Bible. I hate that today, he is surrounded by people who would rather see him sink into depression, loneliness and faith based crisis, instead of encourage him to accept both Christ, and his sexual identity.
Because what I wish I could tell Matt, was that this is an option.
I know this because I’ve seen both sides. I’ve seen what happens when gay men, like Matt, are raised in a stifling religious environment that tries to force them to deny a core of their identity, in the name of Jesus. Like my friend Tyler, who loved being in the worship band, and found unending joy in praising God, but hasn’t been able to play since he was outed. The same friend whose mother violently threw up after he came out to her, and refused to leave her room for two weeks, blaming him for “ruining her life.” I saw what Tyler went through, emotionally, spiritually, even physically, after the people he loved and worshiped with separated him from his church, and his passion for worship. All because he refused to accept the lie that I wish Matt wasn’t believing, that the only way to be “both” Christian and gay, is to accept the lonely life of forced celibacy*.
Tyler, like so many of my other gay friends raised in the church, didn’t find true happiness, and fulfillment until they stopped the internal war that others were forcing them to wage. It wasn’t until they accepted that they could be both Christians, and men in loving, committed, monogamous relationships, that their spirits felt at rest.
Before this, my friends said things similar to what Matt did in his interview with the Christian Post:
I am still not in a good place and need God to work mightily in my heart and mind. I am taking steps to get help with my depression and other issues which I think have led to my recent instability, I have a meeting with a Christian counselor next week.
What I wish I could tell Matt, was that this Christian counselor he’s seeing is not going to help him at all if he’s feeding him the same song and dance. Obviously, that’s not working for Matt. I know that not because I know what “all” gay men think and feel, but because he’s said it himself:
I don’t know that I’ve ever really been happy, or joyful, before… even though I’ve said that I have been. I’ve had spurts of happiness here and there, but it always seems to soon be drowned out by depression, sadness and fear. I’m ready to be happy……..not in sin, but in God.
If Matt was reading this, I’d try to tell him that he doesn’t have to choose between depression and sadness or Christ. I’d tell him that he’s not feeling depressed and sad because he’s not being a “good” enough Christian. I’d put my hands on his shoulders, look into his eyes, and tell him that Christ loves him just as he is, right this second, same sex attraction and all. And that if he’s tried his entire adult life to fight those desires that have made him feel at war with himself, than he can just stop. He doesn’t have to leave Christianity. He doesn’t have to leave Jesus. He doesn’t even have to leave the truth that we’re all sinners in need of the grace of Christ. What Matt can leave, is the hyper focused obsession that some people have with demonizing a loving relationship between two people of the same sex, that looks nothing like anything the Bible identified as sin.
Sin is disobeying God. It’s doing whatever is unloving, selfish, and wrong. Recognizing that, and seeing the abundance of sin in my own life, is what helped me to see that Tyler and his boyfriend loving and wanting to marry each other, while at the same time loving and obeying Christ, is no sin at all.
Why do I know this? Because I believe something Matt himself said in his interview:
Jesus is a good and loving Savior. He is gracious and forgiving to all of those who repent and ask Him for forgiveness. But sin and Jesus cannot be mingled together.
Sin and Jesus cannot be mingled together. Because Jesus died for all of our sins on the cross, and washed them clean. Not so we could freely and without guilt disobey God’s word, but so we could freely and without guilt pursue Him and His greatest commandment. Loving God, and loving our neighbors as ourselves.
That’s the biggest thing I’d want to say to Matt Moore. I love you. And so does God.
*I have nothing against the gay men and women who feel that the best way to honor God is to deny their sexual attractions and live a celibate lifestyle. Just like I have nothing against straight men and women who feel led to do the same. My problem is in the belief that this is the only option for every gay person, even the ones like Matt, who face depression, sadness, and overwhelming loneliness in the attempt to do so. That’s why I believe this is not what God intended for everyone. Joy comes from following God’s will for your life. Not depression.