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June 24th, 2010
09:02 AM ET

Reconciling homosexuality and Christianity

Gary Spino, left, and Tony Brown, right

 

Editor's Note: Tony Brown and his partner Gary Spino are featured in the upcoming CNN In America documentary "Gary and Tony Have a Baby," airing on CNN 8 p.m. ET Thursday.  Tony Brown submitted this blog post on the importance of his Christian faith:     

By Tony Brown, Special to CNN 

As a child I was taught to believe in myself, in family and in God.  To a confused adolescent struggling with his sexuality, that was easier said than done. 

Being the victim of constant and severe bullying due to my perceived sexuality, I developed a strong aversion to organized religion. After all, every religious voice I heard in my youth - whether it was from the pulpit or in the news - told me that I was evil and that there was something wrong with me. 

My heart said otherwise. As I later learned, so did God. 

 

After feeling uncomfortable with my Methodist upbringing, I searched for meaning in a Christian organization called Young Life. We met once a week during my high school years and I thought that I had found a way to love God and have friends that accepted me at the same time. 

But I wasn’t honest with them. Perhaps if I had told them that I was gay they would have accepted me, but I doubt it.  The rhetoric was clear:  if you weren’t heterosexual, you weren’t welcome. 

So I hid my truth until it became impossible to hide anymore. Love is an amazing thing. When I met my husband Gary, I finally accepted that there wasn’t anything wrong with me all along. As a matter of fact, God wanted me to be happy and to accept love into my life. 

What an awesome realization that was. For once I could simply be… No more pretenses or fear… 

I was able to love myself, and in doing so, I found a path to back to my own spirituality, which had been dormant and rejected for so long.  

That  rejection was the terrible result of certain organized religions’ misunderstanding of gay people.  And not just the exclusion that gay people often feel toward religion, but the rejection that their family members fell as well. 

It cannot be easy for a mother or father who loves their child and their church to be torn every Sunday by sermons or homilies railing against the inherent value of his or her own family member. 

We experienced this unfortunate dichotomy with my husband’s parent’s Catholic Church in Pennsylvania when they announced their support for an anti-marriage amendment to the state’s constitution. Gary’s mom and dad have always loved and respected my relationship with their son, but the conflict was there, and it was painful. 

The good news for Gary and me was that we found a congregation that honored our family. Our first visit to The Fourth Universalist Society, a Unitarian Universalist congregation on the Upper West Side of Manhattan was remarkable. Our minister, Rosemary, said a prayer of thanks for the Connecticut Supreme Court’s recent decision to stand up for marriage equality. 

Gary and I looked at each other and cried:  we had never before been in a church that prayed for our equality.   

We were home. 

As a parent, I realize the value of community, which is taught so beautifully in many churches. Gary’s parents’ Catholic Church - their stance on marriage aside - is a prime example of just how successful community outreach can be. Gary grew up with a deep sense of pride in community and he will pass that knowledge and appreciation onto our son, Nicholas. 

Our own church has many community outreach programs, including outreach to homeless gay youth, an often-overlooked population that needs community more than anyone I can imagine. 

Whatever God means to you, however you define or choose not to define it, having a sense of spirit in your life, I believe, is essential. 

I know that when I was without it, I was truly lost. When I found it again, my life took on a richer meaning that I hope and pray my husband and I will successfully be able to pass on to Nicholas. 

As for those who do not understand my family, or perhaps have heard from their own religious leaders that my family is somehow threatening to their peaceful way of life, I hope that they will learn something from our story.  

As my husband Gary says, people are far more similar than we are different. I believe that more and more every day. 

We have since baptized Nicholas at The Fourth Universalist Society in the presence of a couple hundred friends and family. What a beautiful moment it was when Rosemary touched a rose in purified water that had been collected from each and every church member, then touched the rose to Nicholas’ eyes for the things he would see, his lips for the words he would speak and his hands for the deeds he would do. 

There wasn’t a dry eye in the house and in that moment, Gary, Nicholas and I learned what my mother and father tried to teach me when I was a child: believe in yourself, in your family and in God.  

If you can do that, you can do anything.

- CNN.com Senior Producer

Filed under: Christianity • Gay marriage

soundoff (406 Responses)
  1. Peter Q. Wolfe

    This is my final posting about this matter. Go to your God the government the secular one you pray to for comfort. Leave it out of the church in which you try to corrupt church members into your wicked ways. Leave us alone out of your agenda to make it forced acceptance cause we won't yield to your anti-norm stance. Nay, I think onto you that you are astray and the light is shining bright to embrace you if you come willingly of your own fruition back into the church. People have interpreted the Bible wrongly out of excuses of abusing the power of religion for other purposes not the intent of the Bible itself. Most wars are out limited natural resources plain and simple for gold, steel, etc. Religion as such has fallen short but what hasn't fallen short? The atheist state of Russia or China or etc? Think about what you want a life without compassionant morally guiding parishiners or a state of government who cares not for your eternal soul?

    June 25, 2010 at 3:23 pm |
  2. Alex

    "My heart said otherwise. As I later learned, so did God."
    I was waiting for him to point out where God said it was ok. But he didn't....

    June 25, 2010 at 3:13 pm |
  3. Ego

    Oh... and as Sis Cantalope once said "Just be born again!"

    June 25, 2010 at 2:41 pm |
  4. Ego

    Might as well just cut out the New Testament since people never read it...

    June 25, 2010 at 2:40 pm |
  5. hittin' Harlow

    seriously? these men are not confused, their son is in good hands and they live their lives how they want, stop worrying about people that have no impact on your lives. Yes this is the 21st century and we still have our heads up our asses. Peoples' personal beliefs don't hurt anyone until some decides they are going to get in their business. Ever heard the saying "you do you, and I'll do me" we need that more often. Like someone because they are good, because they have similiar interest i.e reading, swimming, dancing, and stop judging them for something that is none of your damn business. Religion has caused more death and destruction than anything else. Do you what you want to get into heaven, but stop trying to change other people because you think its your job, its not.

    June 25, 2010 at 2:05 pm |
    • Randy

      This link/story was labeled a "National Discussion", which means...we discuss...both sides (even though they are wrong, they get their 15 mins). Stop telling people to go away when the purpose of this was to start a discussion...

      June 25, 2010 at 3:58 pm |
  6. CatholicMom

    KB and Sjenner—Baptism is a gift of God and it is how we receive the Holy Spirit within us…at that moment we have the gates of Heaven open to us. Once we have this grace from God we are expected to do the will of the Father which is avoid sin. At Confirmation is when we receive the fullness of the Holy Spirit.

    So, it is God working through us whenever we do good. When we do evil, we have avoided the promptings of the Holy Spirit and have chosen our own will instead. Our free will has not been tampered with by Baptism and so we still choose the wide path or the narrow path.

    Often the narrow path contains crosses to bear—such as saying no to self gratification—to having it our way,—go ahead and be unforgiving when someone hurts you, go ahead, eat that 2nd helping of food even though you are already stuffed—go ahead, sleep in because you drank too much and now your boss wonders why he has to suffer—go ahead, be jealous of your neighbor because he worked hard and could afford that nice new car—go ahead, and have –x even though you are not married— go ahead, kill a baby—go ahead, have –x with a same gender person—go ahead and find others who agree with you and will do these things and not call it sin; these are not MY rules concerning sin. But they are for our own good. We must judge actions in order to know which comply and which do not. By not saying anything against sin is another way of saying it is okay. Jesus Christ said He would be with us always because He will not abandon His Bride the Church. [How many Brides does He have—One—another example for us]. Don’t misunderstand me, we are not to judge a person’s soul, nor our own—that is for God alone to judge. So, yes, Jesus Christ died on the cross so that we might have life everlasting—[by grace you have been saved through faith]; and work out your salvation with fear and trembling—[Phil 2:12], and endure until the end and you will be saved—[Mt 10:22]

    Now if you are not a Catholic and don’t believe in the Catholic Church as being the Church that Jesus Christ founded upon Peter and that He said He would go, then send them [the Apostles] the Advocate who is the Holy Spirit to guide them into all the Truth because they [the Apostles] could not bear to hear it all right then and there—then you are not Catholic and shouldn’t pretend to be. That is another of Satan’s works—confuse people so they don’t understand the Church’s standing on Truth. Believe it, Satan never sleeps and he works from within the Church and from without. Satan loves it when you have one foot in the Church and the other foot out—his game is to get you to get both feet out and drag others with you. But if you believe in the Bible and all of the verses in union with all of the other verses you know that the Church is the pillar and foundation of Truth and is without blemish or wrinkle or any such thing; [remembering that the New Testament is the FULFILLMENT of the Old Testament]. The Church is ‘like a hospital’ and we are all in need of healing, especially Catholics who know the Truth and still defy it.

    June 25, 2010 at 2:05 pm |
  7. BadCountry22

    im getting sick of people calling Christians hypocrites we are not hypocrites and we may have expained the subject wrong to you well just go read the Bible then. And Yes there is a God,Satan,Heaven and Hell go read the Bible

    June 25, 2010 at 1:15 pm |
    • ladyinfinity

      I'm with you on that one! They think non-gay Christians are all black hearted hate-mongers. Sheesh
      If Sodom and Gommorah had been so nifty, why didn't God turn it's streets into gold and the buildings into silver and onyx and pearls as a testiment to its purity and righteousness, instead of raining hell fire down upon it?
      No, we don't hate the gay people, we're trying to help you...

      June 25, 2010 at 2:05 pm |
    • Randy

      I would say the "idea" of calling Christians hypocrites was started b/c of the holier than thou "Christians" being loud and obnoxious, both in and out of church, and in the media.

      We Christians are no better than anyone else, no more important. The difference is that as a REAL Christian we should be TRYING to live a life as Christ described, even though we fail repeatedly (would not be human if we didn't fail). When we do fail, we are repentant and ask for forgiveness, and strength to do better.

      Oh, there is another difference, we know where we are going after our physical bodies die.

      June 25, 2010 at 4:04 pm |
  8. Ho Hum

    It's not just Christians and gays that don't mix. It's all religions and sanity that don't mix. So if you're religious, why not just accept that you've found a way to be happily insane in some part of your being and let it go at that. Insanity, like religion, is a very personal matter, and it doesn't make too much sense to try to impose either onto others. Of course, the sane world hasn't had any more luck trying to impose reason onto others either. So everyone, just give it a rest.

    June 25, 2010 at 12:31 pm |
  9. Cody

    We're in the 21st Century.. God isn't real, science proves it. I can understand the argument , "Well you can't disapprove the existence of god", well yes, but I can prove the lack of evidence OF god's existence.
    I don't understand how that's so hard to comprehend?.. I did note though when I was in school, most of the kids didn't care for religion or god. Hopefully that's a sign of the times changing.

    June 25, 2010 at 12:26 pm |
    • illlisten

      lol- what scientific evidence proves God doesn't exist?

      June 25, 2010 at 1:02 pm |
    • Gil T

      As you glory in the hope of the present changing times of the 21st century: How do you see this hope playing out in this century in terms of physical and emotional safety and well-being of school kids?

      June 25, 2010 at 3:26 pm |
  10. PiercedPsycho

    Frankly, I think you supposed Christians should do as your precious invisible man in the sky says and love your neighbors. If not, then get the heck out of their bedrooms. Why do you care what two consenting adults do? At least they are trying to show love to a child who hasn't seen much of it, and isn't that what your invisible man in the sky is all about?

    June 25, 2010 at 12:18 pm |
    • Gil T

      PP, just forget for the time being about that invisible man. Something just as invisible but no less demonstrative about which are equally mistaken is love.

      June 25, 2010 at 2:41 pm |
    • CatholicMom

      Why do we care? Caring about someone is what love is about. When people stop caring about other people that's when you can say ‘the world has gone to hell in a hand basket’.

      Interestingly, Moses was saved in a hand basket and we can be, too. Moses was picked up out of the water [as in Baptism, we are, too]. There is hope when we try to help others with love in our hearts. Sometimes love does not always agree with everything someone does; that would be saying anything goes and our conscience tells us something different... that does not mean then that the person is hated; there is only disagreement in the action of the person.

      What does science say about our conscience? What is it? Where did it come from? Why do we have one? Does everyone have one? If not, where did it go?

      June 25, 2010 at 2:44 pm |
  11. Lisa S

    Well said Greg L. – This is Christianity – Christ-centered followers everywhere know that sin and repentance go hand in hand. When sins are committed, you are to repent and change – this is how we show our love to the God who created each and every one of us. Obedience to God is how we show love to God and each other.

    Sin is Sin weather you are so called- Gay or Straight. If you violate God's law you are committing Sin. God is not pleased as we continue to justify Sin. People are so wrapped up in their own pursuit of happiness they violate God's law on a daily basis. I think Christians miss the mark when they say they hate Gay's.. I hate the sin you commit but I can't hate the person. Remember Jesus ate with the sinners not the righteous. If you are Gay... God loves you but he has a better plan for your life than your immediate gratification. Don't get caught up in what hateful Christians tell you Find God then follow his direction and he will direct your path.

    June 25, 2010 at 11:57 am |
    • Follower

      Amen

      June 25, 2010 at 1:13 pm |
  12. Eric

    What bothered me about the article is not that they are gay... it is this statement.

    "Whatever God means to you, however you define or choose not to define it, having a sense of spirit in your life, I believe, is essential. "

    That just proves that he doesn't have the slightest clue what it means to be a Christian. The bible clearly states that Jesus is the only way to God. It is NOT whatever God you create in your mind.

    If you don't want to believe that fine but don't then call yourself a Christian.

    I just don't understand how people can claim to be a Christian and say things like that. Why not just abandon Christianity and go your own way?

    June 25, 2010 at 11:35 am |
    • Lisa S

      Well said, Eric!

      June 25, 2010 at 12:02 pm |
    • Lilith

      Thanks Eric, my sentiments exactly.

      June 28, 2010 at 4:08 am |
    • civiloutside

      But... God is created in your own mind. There are no other kinds.

      July 7, 2010 at 4:47 pm |
  13. Peter Q. Wolfe

    I'm like other christians just are hashing out the point that civil unions serve the government and we are leaving them alone for the most part. I care not if you choose your lifestyle on your terms outside of the church that is fine whatever. The dude above me talking about science and everything of us saine people supposedly also studied and are studying science. Lots of christians study science each and everyday on all kinds of levels from mechanical engineering to my very own computer science. Taking care of a homosexual child? I think any church would take care of any child regardless of creed of background cause that is what we do all of the time! Loook at a local parish with a child nursury if you don't believe me. Duh, the point of the man made vehicles and everything isn't relavent as you cancled yourself out with natural science pertaining of this world. Let me ask you a question though. Will science answer fundamental questions? What happens after you die? Another good one about life is why can't homosexuals have children even from lesbos and the greeks till now days? Creatures even animalia with us mammals of homo sapien order are supposed to be the highest of the wise beings right? Then, how wise is it of being homosexual when by your own standards of natural biological science that those same genes stop you from reproducing physically? I'm just saying having faith in science will ultimately let you down and leave you with nothing to show just artificial unfulfilling things like material wealth or of hollow mantras of equalities of which most people in the world disagree with you from all faiths and walks of life literate and illiterate societies from the foundation of society till modern times.

    June 25, 2010 at 11:13 am |
  14. Dan

    WOW... I didn't know so many people wanted to be involved in so many strangers lives. The conservatives talk a good game, individual liberty! Freedom for the common citizen from governemnt! Then they turn around and say, "Only on our terms" You can only date on Wednesdays, no orgasms after 11:00 pm. If these comments sound ridiculous to you, thats how you're anti-gay comments sound to me. You don't have to like it, just leave peoeple alone! Are you going to help care for that child? Not one of the bible thumpers here will support a child from a gay marriage, so why even put in your two cents. I will finish with this, when you want to travel somewhere, do you use physical transportation (created with science) or do you pray for God to teleport you?

    PS. Obviosly someone will refute my last statement by saying God created everything, which is a lazy way of saying you know less about God than we sane people know about science and the "useful" world.

    June 25, 2010 at 10:52 am |
    • Curtis D.

      First...your ramblings here make no sense...Second...I didn't plaster myself on international media. As how I look at it. These two people stepped out onto the world stage begging for controversy...knowing full well that it would be a major controversy. To your P.S...A cookie is created by a baker...a car is created by people...everything has a creator. I to believe in the "big bang theory" but...I look at it as the process that universe was created by God...everything has a creator.

      June 25, 2010 at 4:33 pm |
    • Curtis D.

      Having said that...Science...we are the product of God's science.

      June 25, 2010 at 4:40 pm |
  15. Alabama

    Love one another. Love God. Do the best you can and if you can share that love with a child in need then by all means please do. Moral superiority should be left to The expert–if you're not God then please keep your freakin moral judgment to yourself. Good luck Gary, Tony and Nicholas. Much happiness

    June 25, 2010 at 10:46 am |
  16. smallvoice2

    Homosexuality is sin. Therefore, if you love God, you will come out of it, for you will want to please and obey God.

    June 25, 2010 at 10:35 am |
  17. ladyinfinity

    If Gary and Tony Really believe they're doing what's right and Holy, then leave them be.
    But remember:
    Suicide bombers Really believe they're doing the right thing too.
    Humm.

    June 25, 2010 at 9:09 am |
    • Gil T

      A blunt but simple truth.

      June 25, 2010 at 10:02 am |
  18. Peter Q. Wolfe

    I'm young and in college with a precomputer science major at a major four year university in the United States of America. If they want a Civil Union, then by all means do that if that is what you want. It's also biological to do many things and it doesn't make them right either. For example, indiscrimitory reproduction by means of lust. Christians originally have discipline the ones that actually believe in him. It's a reason why they have that saying "God made Adam and Eve not Adam and Steve" afterall! We have a huge pro life movement at Auburn University and people come from all over from Maryland, Vermont, New York, Oregon, Texas, California, Alabama, Misssissippi, Georgia, North Carolina, Missouri, Tennesse, Florida, West Virginia, Connecticut, Illinois, Kansas, etc that agree with popular opinion against amoral behavior. These are people in very diversified and nationally and international fields from other countries that probably agree with our sympathies against them from all over the place. These fields are forestry, business, fisheries, pharmacies, veternarian, aerospace engineering, mechanical engineering, chemical engineering, and etc that rank up there in the top 100 and some in the top like 20 in the nation. So, it's not that religious people don't understand rather it's the areligious or reform supposed enlightened christians willing to comprimise on moral behavior that is what is wrong with this picture. Serve your secular God if you want but God does love you and wants you to change your life. Please don't expect fundamental christians to agree democrat or republican on this uniform front against such a travesty of upmost proportions. This is unparamount in this United States of America.
    Finally, the privacy of the 4th secular point of view is that of the government and not that of God and whatever that is in the public square not the church area. We don't hate them as people rather we hate their choice of being who they are living sinful lustful lives. They disobey, the following commandments:
    1. loving God
    note: cause you disobey God continiously without repenting your sinful ways
    2. adultry
    note: your having sex outside of marriage
    3. respecting your parents
    note: most parents still think in this country that it's not right to havve a homosexual relationship
    Likewise you can keep your atheism to yourselves as well! All of the time you ridicule christians on online forums and you are just as outspoken against us as we are against your amoral behavior. What is your moral compass without God? Ethics and other subjective unreproachful behavior? If there was no creationalism, then what created the universe? The big bang had to have something behind it for a reason and a purpose and I refuse to comply with the Stephen Hawking bs as well. Choose your own path but the doors of the church doors are open to sinner and nonsinner alike just don't expect open fellowship with your lifestyle. We will still take care of your as humans as it's our obligation to do so though and won't hate you as much as dislike your sinning ways.

    June 25, 2010 at 7:15 am |
  19. Chrys

    Astonishing how self-righteous people can get, thinking they have a moral imperative to sit in judgment as if they were god.

    June 25, 2010 at 5:41 am |
  20. Rohan L. Ebanks

    I cannot understand why a gay person would want to be part of a religious group that does not accept them for being gay. This strange yearning leads them to read into the bible things that a clearly not written. NOWHERE in the bible dose it states that it’s OK to be gay……NOWHERE!!!! It even goes as far to call it an abomination and implies that gays should be killed. What twisted form of mental gymnastics dose it takes to fool one’s self into thinking “I am gay and God loves me anyway” Its theological and intellectual dishonesty to simply sweep Christianity’s prohibition against homosexuality under the rug (Leviticus 20:13)

    Look, if you are gay ….be gay ……. be happy in your own skin and who don’t like it can go “xxxx” but stop tormenting yourself with gaining acceptance into sociality’s mind crippling myths and fairytales. Gay or not, one does not need to grovel and the feet and any sort of “guy in the sky” nonsense to be happy, productive members of society. When you finally throughout the bathwater you’ll relies there was never was any baby.

    June 25, 2010 at 5:18 am |
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The CNN Belief Blog covers the faith angles of the day's biggest stories, from breaking news to politics to entertainment, fostering a global conversation about the role of religion and belief in readers' lives. It's edited by CNN's Daniel Burke with contributions from Eric Marrapodi and CNN's worldwide news gathering team.