Who Is In The Closet?
By: Rev. Charles Burnett-Morrow
2 Peter 1:5-11
5 And beside this, giving all diligence, add to your faith virtue; and to virtue knowledge; 6 And to knowledge temperance; and to temperance patience; and to patience godliness; 7 And to godliness brotherly kindness; and to brotherly kindness charity. 8 For if these things be in you, and abound, they make you that ye shall neither be barren nor unfruitful in the knowledge of our Lord Jesus Christ. 9 But he that lacketh these things is blind, and cannot see afar off, and hath forgotten that he was purged from his old sins. 10 Wherefore the rather, brethren, give diligence to make your calling and election sure: for if ye do these things, ye shall never fall: 11 For so an entrance shall be ministered unto you abundantly into the everlasting kingdom of our Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ.
Over the past twelve years I have been able to personally overcome many of the obstacles faced by individuals as they "come out of the closet." When I first "came out" all I knew about Gay and Lesbian people were the things I had been taught as a child. My father always spoke of Gay men as being weak "sissies." My mother never really said too much that was disparaging of Gay-Lesbian people, after all, she had worked with both gay men and Lesbians. She was well aware of the fact that they were human beings like everyone else. The church and various "Christian" organizations did have a great deal to say about the matter of homosexuality. I heard horror stories of utter depravity, wanton immorality, shameless molestation, rampant drug and alcohol abuse, and forcible rape. According to so many Christian publications I had read as a youth, the Gay-Lesbian population was the most hideous, evil, depraved, and diabolical segment of the human population ever to breath God's free air. When I first came out, I was terrified to even step into a Gay establishment in hopes of meeting others like myself! I just knew that I would be groped, molested, accosted, and raped. What a surprise when I entered my first Gay environment to find that it was full of real, down-to-earth human beings who laugh, converse, play, and have fun - just like anyone else. I quickly made friends and found support. Often times with Lesbian women I had met. Not every man was after sex with everything that wore pants. People were every bit as particular in their personal attractions and tastes as are most heterosexual people. It took me years to come out of the ridiculous mindset that I had been forced into by "Christian" organizations and publications. And I have finally come to realize that it was not in 1989 that I "came out," but probably more like 1992, around the time that I finally was able to discard the remnants of a youth bombarded with hideous lies and exaggerations perpetrated by individuals claiming to represent the truth, when all the while they were representing nothing short of liable and defamation of a people whom they had labeled evil and branded as bound for Hell. One of the most shameful evil doers in this regard is the Chick Publishing "ministry" out of California. I think of them more as a propaganda factory than any kind of ministry. Their literature paints the entire homosexual community as seedy, child-molesting, perverts in leather chaps, smoking crack, entangled in orgies, and getting bombed!
I recently received yet another email from a woman I had known many years ago. Her husband helped me find my way into this wonderful Apostolic Gospel which I love so much today. It was he who baptized me in the name of the Lord Jesus Christ for the remission of sins back in 1984. It seems that she discovered my ministry's website online. Her first reaction was of course to write me a scathing letter of rebuke, accusing me of embracing an "immoral lifestyle." This woman has not laid eyes on me in nearly twenty years! Yet here she was, making judgments and throwing accusations as though she knew every intricate detail of my life! I started thinking about the ignorance and shear stupidity that breeds people like her and the comments she had made. It was right then that I realized that it was no longer I who was in the closet, but she! She is living in a dark place, devoid of truth, and in absence of knowledge. She is the one who refuses to come out of the darkness and step into the light. I should be the one rejoicing as I have finally allowed the love and grace of God to shine fully upon my path, whereas she still chooses to remain comfortably hold-up in her dark place.
Most straight, conservative "Christians" cannot even begin to fathom the difficulty individuals face when having to come to terms with their homosexuality. I personally wrestled with the matter for many years as I was growing up. I suppressed any feelings of attraction I might have had for another male and tried desperately to date girls, thinking as I had so often heard, that if I married my life would miraculously be changed and I would become straight. For years I was successful, but miserable. When I finally decided in 1989 to "come out" and pursue whatever possibilities existed for me as a Gay man, the battle did not end. I continued to believe many of the lies I had been taught about homosexual people. I even believed them about myself! I was convinced that I was a deviant pervert. The level of self-loathing and self hatred experienced by so many Gay-Lesbian people upon first attempting to come out is so severe that many turn to alcohol or drugs to dull the pain. Many others simply commit suicide. Our society and our world will be much better served one day when we finally recognize homosexuals as mere human beings who, for whatever reasons, are "wired differently" than the heterosexual population. When Gay-Lesbian young people no longer have to face the extreme levels of homophobia that exist within our society today, perhaps they then will be able to gracefully grow into adulthood, maintaining their faith in a resurrected Christ while pursuing a godly and moral existence within the context of who they are as individual human beings. When society and the church finally recognize that the term homosexual is misleading, in that it suggests merely a sexual attraction to members of the same sex, rather than acknowledge that it in truth represents a desire to be with (intimately, physically, emotionally, and spiritually) a member of the same gender in a relationship that lasts a lifetime. Most Gay-Lesbian relationships fail due to societal, familial, or religious pressures placed on one or both of the two individuals. If these pressures did not exist, or at least could be greatly lessened, mainstream society would quickly see that homosexual people seek and desire the same exact goals as do they.
I have been so blessed in the past decade or more since "coming out" to be able to share my personal experience with my family and friends. I have never been one who could live a lie, or at least do it very well for very long. I prefer to live honestly and openly. When I "came out" in May of 1989, I did so that I could pursue being true to myself without having to live a double life. I didn't shock my family with those dreaded words, "Folks, I'm Gay!" Instead, I merely began to live my life honestly and openly before them, and in short order they put two and two together. Things were far from easy at the start. I grew up in a Pentecostal family, at least on my mother's side of the family tree. I heard my share of bitter comments and fierce preaching. When my grandmother let me know that I would always be welcome in her home, but she would prefer that I not bring any of my "friends" home with me, I let her know that the day I was unable to bring my friends home, when my straight siblings, aunts, and uncles could always bring their wives, dates, girlfriends and boyfriends (some unmarried, live-in) home; I would have to consider myself banned from her home as well. Why did I feel this way? Simply because it was my contention that my friends, romantic or otherwise, were a part of my life, every bit as much as were the friends and mates of my heterosexual family members. Unless the policy were uniformly enforced, I would be asked to do something based upon absolutely no criteria other than who I was as an individual. I was not prepared to do that! My grandmother quickly recanted and all was well with the world once again.
I had been with a wonderful guy named Jason for nearly a year or so when we were visiting my grandparent's home in Connecticut. Jason and I met shortly after I moved to New York City in 1991. My family utterly adored Jason as he was a very sweet, gentle, soft spoken, and very pleasant person to be around. Even my grandfather greeted him with a kiss each time we entered his home. One morning I was coming downstairs from having slept in a bit late. Jason and grandma had already been up a couple of hours and she had made him breakfast and coffee. As I entered the kitchen, Jason stated that he would be going upstairs to lay down for a bit as he was tired. After he left the room, I prepared myself a cup of coffee and sat at the kitchen table to chat with my grandmother. To my amazement she uttered words which I shall not within this lifetime ever forget. "That boy loves you." I was stunned. I asked her what had brought this observation on. Her response, "In the last year, every time you have brought him home, I have noticed that he lights up like a Christmas tree every time you enter the room. He is forever talking about the wonderful things you do, the meals you have cooked, things you have together done. He thinks the sun and the moon rise and set on you." I never felt so flushed in all my life. I was humbled, embarrassed, and deeply flattered all at once. Many times individuals on trains from New York to Connecticut, as well as on subways and in public places, people had asked Jason and I if we were a couple. When we would answer, "Yes, as a matter of fact we are;" they would almost always say, "I knew it. The way you two look together and look at one another, it is so obvious that you care very deeply for one another." But to have my grandmother acknowledge this fact was more than I could ever hope for! For the first couple of years after I had "come out," she would refer to my "friends" as my little tarts, toy-boys, or the like. Most straight couples don't have society and religion doing everything in their power to break them up. The Gay and Lesbian community cannot simply enjoy good, decent, moral, committed relationships as there are elements within our society, as well as churches on virtually every corner, who are forever striving to convince them that their orientation is unnatural and should therefore be suppressed. After five years together, Jason was finally convinced to leave me by a preacher who claimed he could not be Gay and Christian. Interestingly enough, this same exact preacher is a closeted homosexual with a arranged marriage which he uses to cover up his real orientation. What was his real purpose in separating Jason and I? He saw what we had and wanted it for himself. In my Bible that reads, "coveting." And so far as I am aware coveting is still a sin.
Anyone who has ever been exposed for any length of time to a Gay or Lesbian individual generally finds that they have far more in common with their heterosexual peers than one might even imagine. While there are some who are party animals, given to drug use and alcohol abuse, unbridled in their sexual appetites; the majority are clearly simple living people who desire the same exact things in life as the average conservative. Love is universal. It knows no color, age, or gender. Ruth loved her mother-in-law Naomi so much that she was willing to abandon her entire family to "marry" herself to Naomi. Read the words of Ruth as she spoke a vow of commitment and dedication to her mother in law in Ruth 1:16-17.
But Ruth said: "Entreat me not to leave you, Or to turn back from following after you; For wherever you go, I will go; And wherever you lodge, I will lodge; Your people shall be my people, And your God, my God. Where you die, I will die, And there will I be buried. The Lord do so to me, and more also, If anything but death parts you and me."
Ruth's words read identical to a wedding vow. Right down to the "till' death do us part" clause. Every human being desires companionship and love. We are most fulfilled by loving relationships that are anchored in a mutual commitment. We all desire to have someone with whom we are able to build a life and experience the world God has created so beautifully. I have never been one to suggest that the homosexual orientation has existed since day one. It need not have done so. Eunuchs did not exist in the Garden of Eden either, and yet later in human history the castrated male became a reality within humanity. God made provision within His Word for the Eunuch, even though the law would have seemed to have utterly alienated them. Homosexuality is a reality in our world today. It is not a "lifestyle" of choice, but a natural, personal, innate expression and orientation. We do not know the cause, but we do know that it exists within every single culture, religion, race, and segment of the human population. If this orientation were the byproduct of biological defects, it would be none-the-less a natural state of existence for the individual living with that orientation.
One of the ways that I was finally able to step out of the closet myself and step into the truth of reality was by accompanying my heterosexual brother on several occasions to some straight establishments, where I discovered that every single thing I had ever seen done in a Gay environment was being done in like numbers and fashion in the straight environments. There are no more Gay whores and whoremongers than there are straight ones. The Christian organizations perpetrating the evil lies that homosexual people are given to drugs and alcohol by reason of their desire to embrace a godless and immoral "lifestyle" fail to examine or recognize the fact that Gay and Lesbian people are faced with issues far too great for many to bear without the support and love of the church. This forces many to turn to self-medication with illicit drugs and alcohol. Thankfully, even after I came out, I never turned to drugs or alcohol to help soothe the stings and pains of my difficult coming out process. I never lost my faith and frequently turned to the Lord in times of distress and trouble. And thankfully, He was always there to hear and answer the cries of my heart.
A few years ago I made the huge mistake of mailing a newsletter from my ministry to a minister friend of mine in Texas. He did not know that I had come out, and I certainly did not want for him to learn of my having done so in this way. I only learned that I had made this mistake when I received a scathing letter from his wife telling me that they no longer wished any fellowship with me, "...until you abandon that immoral and ungodly lifestyle." Again, I hadn't seen these folks in well over a decade. Some years earlier, after I had come out, I had solicited a letter of recommendation from this Brother for a job I had applied for. The letter of recommendation he wrote was glowing. He spoke of the fact that he had known me for several years and that he knew me to be "an intelligent, capable, and very moral man." Isn't it interesting how that I was seen as all these wonderful things while I was perceived as straight. Yet, when the word got out that I was Gay, suddenly these people knew so much about me and my "lifestyle." In reality, nothing about me or my personal, religious, or moral convictions had changed one ounce. The only difference being that I now acknowledged that I was naturally attracted to, and therefore pursuing a loving, committed, romantic relationship with a member of my same gender.
The Lord Jesus Christ Himself would be condemned today by the majority of "conservative" Christian leaders. His teachings were liberal by comparison with those of the Pharisees and lawyers of His day. He not only taught love and grace, but His every action exemplified these divine principals to a level never before witnessed by human eyes. While human beings focus on the sexual aspect of homosexual relationships, God is seeing the higher element of love and caring between two human beings. The truth is that the Bible only speaks of homosexual conduct within the context of the idolatrous practices of temple prostitution. To compare the loving exchange of intimacy with such idolatrous conduct is to say that a man making love to his wife is the same as a man raping a woman he does not even know. Obviously this is a ludicrous comparison. I have written several other articles which are published within this site dealing with these issues. I encourage you to read them.
Friend, I do not know whether you may be one that is today "in the closet" or one that is struggling to find your way out. It is possible that you are a heterosexual individual who finds it easy to condemn and judge the homosexual based upon gross misinterpretation of Scripture and violent misrepresentation of homosexual peoples. You may be a Gay or Lesbian individual struggling to live honestly and openly, but finding the programming of your youth difficult to overcome. You may still feel a great deal of self-loathing and homophobia (yes, even we can be homophobic when we allow ourselves to believe the many lies perpetrated by so-called "Christian" organizations). My purpose in this article is by no means to draw you away from your relationship with our wonderful Christ. Not at all. My purpose is to encourage you to draw closer to Him by acknowledging honestly who you are, first to yourself and then to the Lord. The hatred and bigotry that right-wing "Christian" organizations have fostered by reason of their hideous misrepresentations of the homosexual population are proof enough that their claims are false. Were they true, the evil and ungodly hateful arrogance that these exhibit would not be so repulsively obvious. When my partner is coming home from work, I am preparing dinner, so that when he comes home, he will have a nice hot meal waiting for him. We go places together, we do things together, we strive together to achieve the same kinds of goals that heterosexual couples strive to achieve. We love our families, pray, go to church, worship the Lord, keep house, cook, pay bills, encourage one another, run errands, etc. THAT is the "Gay lifestyle." If it sounds a lot like the heterosexual lifestyle, the answer may be clearly found if and when you will "come out of the closet." Closets, my friend, are for clothes. It is most unfortunate that so many conservative legalistic modern-day Pharisees choose to live in them, preaching more sermons on what people wear than they do on the grace and love of God. But then, as a preacher, I can tell you, they can only preach on clothing as that is all they ever see living in the closet.
Matthew 13:15 - For this people's heart is waxed gross, and their ears are dull of hearing, and their eyes they have closed; lest at any time they should see with their eyes, and hear with their ears, and should understand with their heart, and should be converted, and I should heal them.
Matthew 15:14 - Let them alone: they be blind leaders of the blind. And if the blind lead the blind, both shall fall into the ditch.