I love church. Church feels as much like home as my own kitchen. Sometimes it’s an absolute mess, but that usually means something fantastic is cooking!  As a young man who believed in Jesus and who was gay, I had two choices when it came to being a part of a church. I could either become not-gay (or by default stay hidden in a closet of shame and secrecy) or not go to church. Within the past few decades, LGBTQ people of faith have found a third option in open and affirming churches and I’m thankful. These 3 options have also played out when allies, friends, and family of LGBTQ people find themselves veering toward affirmation and inclusion.

Today, I find myself wondering if there is more. What if we as the Church, the body of Christ, his bride, could lovingly, thoughtfully, and graciously wrestle through these important realities together? What if LGBTQ people and our friends, family, and/or allies could “come out” authentically within the community of believers we call our local church? What if the desire for conversation, relationship, love, and the gospel trumped fear, accusation, whispering, and division? What if we chose to live in the tension for the sake of relationship and the gospel?

I don’t go to a perfect church, but it is my church. It’s a place where I have exposed my weaknesses, wept openly, argued passionately, used profanity in heated small meetings with other leaders, been loved through the worst of times, and supported when we didn’t know where or when the next paycheck would come. At our church we’ve been prayed for, cared for, and loved deeply. In turn, we’ve given to, prayed for, cared for, and loved others. We believe there is no more important truth to understand than to know how much our good Father loves us, to fully receive that love, and from there love him and others to the best of our ability.

This video is my most recent message at my church and shares much of the struggle I mentioned.  My hope is that it conveys how burdensome such tension can be—but how worth it living in the tension within ones community is.

I love both my church and the greater Church and I have tremendous hope that, as the Church, we are becoming all we were created to be. I love that my church is choosing love, relationship, and conversation for the sake of the Gospel and people. That’s real life. That’s maturity. That’s grace.

I value your honesty and critical review. Please refrain from attacking others.

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17 thoughts on “Let’s Grow Up, Church

  1. Thank you so much for sharing the grace of God. I am a Christian who loves God because He first loved me. I am also a person who has struggled many years with same sex attraction. I’ve been told that I can’t be gay and Christian but I know that God has been with me and is with me and has never left me. I have struggled with the idea that God could love me as a gay person. I am now loving myself as a lesbian who loves God. I thank you for sharing the grace of God with me and others who have been made to feel that God can not love them because they struggle with same sex attraction or have accepted themselves as GLBT people of faith. Thank you for welcoming all people to the table of God. I once identified as exgay but now I am accepting myself as a Christian who happens to have same sex attraction. I am no longer struggling with or denying my attraction but it is my intention to grow in God and allow Him to love on me so that I might love others and share God’s grace with all mankind. Thank you for sacrificing your lively hood, your friendships and your standing in the Christian Community, so that you might extend the grace of God to All, not just some. Thank you for sharing this awesome video with us. I am writing this comment with tears in my eyes. I love you Alan and I appreciate all that you and your wife have done to cause me and people like me to know that God loves and us and truly cares about us. I finally am realizing that God does not condemn me. Thank you and God bless you.

    • Selena, your comments always give me great encouragement. I am so thankful that you have come to realize God loves YOU! If that is what you are getting from what I say then I’ve accomplished my goal. Tons of love to you, my friend!

  2. I have a question…then what does this verse mean??( and the other ones that condemn homosexuality)
    Romans 1:18-32New King James Version (NKJV)
    God’s Wrath on Unrighteousness

    18 For the wrath of God is revealed from heaven against all ungodliness and unrighteousness of men, who suppress the truth in unrighteousness, 19 because what may be known of God is manifest in them, for God has shown it to them. 20 For since the creation of the world His invisible attributes are clearly seen, being understood by the things that are made, even His eternal power and Godhead, so that they are without excuse, 21 because, although they knew God, they did not glorify Him as God, nor were thankful, but became futile in their thoughts, and their foolish hearts were darkened. 22 Professing to be wise, they became fools, 23 and changed the glory of the incorruptible God into an image made like corruptible man—and birds and four-footed animals and creeping things.

    24 Therefore God also gave them up to uncleanness, in the lusts of their hearts, to dishonor their bodies among themselves, 25 who exchanged the truth of God for the lie, and worshiped and served the creature rather than the Creator, who is blessed forever. Amen.

    26 For this reason God gave them up to vile passions. For even their women exchanged the natural use for what is against nature. 27 Likewise also the men, leaving the natural use of the woman, burned in their lust for one another, men with men committing what is shameful, and receiving in themselves the penalty of their error which was due.

    28 And even as they did not like to retain God in their knowledge, God gave them over to a debased mind, to do those things which are not fitting; 29 being filled with all unrighteousness, sexual immorality,[a] wickedness, covetousness, maliciousness; full of envy, murder, strife, deceit, evil-mindedness; they are whisperers, 30 backbiters, haters of God, violent, proud, boasters, inventors of evil things, disobedient to parents, 31 undiscerning, untrustworthy, unloving, unforgiving,[b] unmerciful; 32 who, knowing the righteous judgment of God, that those who practice such things are deserving of death, not only do the same but also approve of those who practice them.

      • I agree, wrath and destruction isnt the primary theme of the Bible. But its there. For all sins, homosexuality included. But all the rest too. I really enjoyed your ministry in helping people leave sin behind. I miss it. There is a need for that specific message of grace, and embracing sin isnt the answer. Grace, forgiveness and repentance is. I hope you come out and get back to that calling.

    • Jennifer,
      I am assuming that you are genuinely seeking information so I will attempt to get you started on a quest. First thing to remember when studying scripture (which I am certain you already know) is that the authentic message from God is the one that is in the exchange between the speaker/writer of the words and his audience, what they heard and understood. It has always helped me to read about the world of the “hear-ers” and then go back and read the scripture in that light. In this particular text you have chosen, he is writing to the roman gentile christians. Go read about Roman polytheism, their practices and worship rituals. It will help you understand what their world and their life was like and how Judaism and Christianity was viewed from their perspective. Roman religion depended on knowledge and “correct practices” of prayer, ritual, and sacrifice. Not on faith or dogma, that was considered “superstitious.” Back to this particular text…..this needs to be read in it’s entirety so that it is understood he is speaking to roman gentile christians. Some of them, who knew God, went back to the culture of that time’s ways and in so doing denounced our God. So God allowed the natural consequences to occur, as he does in so many areas of life. The example used is sexual immorality and excessive lust (which occurs in both same sex and hetero sexual communities, we have to be honest and say it is a problem amongst humans, period.) If you read on to the other listings of indicators of abandoning our God (covetousness, envy, strife, etc.) you could play those out to their natural end of: being in debt, not being liked by most people because you are an “agitator”, etc…..Some who read and have studied this text believe that this is not referring to a monogamous, loving same sex marriage. A lot of people (very intelligent people and lovers of God) think that the “clobber passages” are not referring to that, but to those who are just filled with lust and having sex outside of covenant relationship, and those who are sexually abusing others and themselves.
      If you are struggling in this area, I would strongly encourage you to read lots! Not just religious opinions (and I would examine both sides!) but also read medical information, social history. Read about the history of homosexuality, especially with regard to America’s history – in mid 1900’s for the erroneous information that was later repudiated, but who’s effects are still seen today. Read about how the word “homosexual” was placed in the Bible and what was used before that.
      The most important thing you can do though, is relationship. Get to know some LGBTQ folks. That’s when ink on pages gets the proper perspective. Listen and hear their stories, their struggles.
      I hope this is helpful, and my prayer for you is a teachable and open spirit to the work of the Holy Spirit to help you be a lover of God and people. Also to be more comfortable in not necessarily having all the “answers.”
      Best Regards,
      Kim

      • I’d like to address Jennifer, Kim, and Alan. By watching this video, I learned that Alan still believes that his involvement with Exodus has been positive and helpful, but he started questioning its mission and purpose right after the passing of Proposition 8, when he saw so many people crying. 2 Corinthians 7:8-13 talks about people experiencing sorrows after hearing godly messages, but eventually repenting as a result of hearing them and processing through. There is also a big distinguish between godly sorrows and worldly sorrows. It could be quite possible this is what was going with the people Alan has been talking about. Only time can tell. I see a lot of what Alan is talking about, reflecting Romans 5 on the matter of grace, however, Romans 6, starts by a statement that we should no way go on sinning, so the grace might increase. As Christians who believe that same-sex relationships are sinful, which based on this video indicates that Alan still holds such beliefs, it is important to maintain the balance between showing grace to people and encouraging sin, and I can see how hard this is.

  3. “Grace is messy”…indeed. However, I am a grace receiver and giver. May God help each one of us understand your message which, by the way, was most honest, authentic and full of grace 🙂 Blessings on you and your family.

  4. Alan-Love, mercy, and grace are always strongly displayed when you speak. I might be “side A”on the homosexual issue, but there IS a double standard regarding homosexuality and other sexual sin. Until the church wakes up and puts ALL sexual struggles in the same category, we mustn’t single out SSA/homosexuality as the WORST thing anyone can do, That is NOT grace OR love!

  5. I watched the whole video, but I didn’t hear any mention of the biblical view of homosexuality. I understand grace not works, but I don’t know the whole story of Alan Chambers. Is he pro-gay, or anti-gay? Does the bible address it or not? Is there another link to go to, to find this out?