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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. NoGaysAllowedInHeaven-CheckForYourself!

    Surprise! There are no gay Christians. the two are incompatible. a Christian can have those desires, but living that lifestyle is certainly sin, and according to Jesus Christ Himself, is in disobedience to God. Their future? The Lake of Fire forever. If they want a baby, the only one they should be able to have is the one that they can conceive on their own. Ha!

    June 26, 2010 at 8:41 pm |
    • inferno bound

      then i guess this remark that you stated is true. "I think we would all classify such remarks as idiotic"

      June 27, 2010 at 12:35 am |
  2. Eddy Gugliotta

    Don't really mind, and for sure I don't really care, and to me, this is worthless news. What these two guys are doing is Contra Natura, but if it makes them happy, let them do it but do not make an issue or tabloid news out of it. Perhaps, they will be better parents than a bunch of useless individuals all over the country, all I suggest is discretion, privacy and don't make a freak circus of it.

    June 26, 2010 at 8:15 pm |
  3. jesuschrist

    There are more overweight, obese in this country than gays. Hello!!! Gluttony! One of the Seven Deadly Sins! What exactly is your obsession with making gay lives miserable? How about fat people? If sin is sin no matter what? There are a lot more fat sinners in this country than gay ones!

    June 26, 2010 at 7:35 pm |
    • HeIsGod

      If you side with what is sin, than you are against what God is saying in His Word. What exactly is your obsession with making obese lives miserable? You think that making this ignorant post makes you look like a better Christian? We speak Truth, it is our duty as Christians to preach the Gospel of the Good News to those that are lost! What are you doing? You are defending on sin, while sinning against another sin?

      June 27, 2010 at 12:52 am |
    • jesuschrist

      I am not a Christian. I don't believe in a Christian God. You may BELIEVE that there is only a Christian God but there are many that don't. Your beliefs are just that, BELIEF, NOT TRUTH. You are free to believe whatever you want but your beliefs do not affect me even if you think they do. If your truth was an absolute, everyone would believe in the same God just as everyone believe in the existence of the phenomenon know as gravity. Get a grip.

      June 27, 2010 at 2:13 am |
  4. Ben

    About 98% of you are wrong, including the article's author. The bible says this and says that. Who cares? You are basing your morality on the morality of the guys who wrote the bible centuries ago. You choose to believe it's the word of your god, but more likely it's the word of a bunch of old men who said that god spoke through them so they could control the supersticious society of the time. What people do with their lives is their business. Any child they choose to raise, and to abide by the law is one less child without a family. Isn't that more important than the views of a religion that you were indoctrinated into. Religion is dumb. Remember that if you would have been born an Aztec, you would have been worshiping the sun. Humanity needs to grow out of religion.

    June 26, 2010 at 2:49 pm |
    • JesusChristareyouserious?

      Thank you!

      June 26, 2010 at 5:06 pm |
    • inferno bound

      spoken in the manner that the bible warns us about. the child that this story is about, was a donated egg. not an abandoned child that no one wanted.

      June 27, 2010 at 12:29 am |
  5. waitasec

    why all the fear of the unconventional family?
    Society cannot stagnate, change is a part of the ride. Living in fear will only stop the process of growth and maturity. Why live in a conservative bubble protecting you from your fears of the non customary approach to todays way of life...?
    How sad to live in fear and being robbed of an opportunity to make choices based on your own truth. We have been taught to fear the unknown and to rely on fairy tales which only teach us to put the unorthodox with the deviant in the same box.

    June 26, 2010 at 2:42 pm |
  6. George

    It is not God's law that we are to treat one sin as worse than any other sin. All sins are the same from Gods perspective. Yes, if you murder it is the same as if you wish that you had your neighbors car instead of him! So quit judging gay people- they are imperfect as we are imperfect. Their sin is no worse than a gossiping baptist old woman who likes to spread rumors and get in everyones business.

    June 26, 2010 at 12:25 pm |
  7. George

    to the one posting as jesuschrist, you should research all the world's religions. I did this as well. Find out which one has the most historic authenticity by extra sources. Find out which one has the best archaelogical support. To say that all faiths are the same and that truth is relevant is just wrong – you can say that after you have done your research. Do the vedas of Hinduism even come close to the Torah? Why does the Koran say that Jesus Christ was not crucified – it proves itself wrong by saying that as we have 3 extra biblical sources that prove he was crucified. You will find these gaping holes in other religions so yes truth is absolute. God gave you a brain – don't be lazy and go research

    June 26, 2010 at 12:15 pm |
    • Eric G

      Evolution gave you a brain. You are an atheist, just like me. I just believe in one less god. You have done research into your faith, not to prove it as fact, but to justify your own faith by discounting others. You can deny it if you wish, but when you reference the bible as a accurate historical text, your credibility was lost. It's make-believe, like the boogeyman.

      June 26, 2010 at 1:00 pm |
    • jesuschrist

      You should really think about what I said in my original post before you post. All of this is a matter of belief. It doesn't matter if one text is historically more accurate than another. It's all belief not an absolute. To me and to many like me who rely on logic and reason, the notion that there was a virgin birth, a resurrection, and a person who turned water into wine in the bible makes the bible suspect from the get go. Now it is not just the bible that has stories in it that would give Hans Christian Andersen a run for his money, of course. But I don't have to research every religion on earth to know that. And the fact that some people God's seven days is multiple millenia in our time adds to the complete "man-madeness" of the bible. You can't simply pick and choose what can be interpreted a certain way or not. Again it's a matter of belief not an absolute. If it were an absolute we'd all believe the same thing.

      June 26, 2010 at 5:19 pm |
  8. CatholicMom

    I know that I am; I am just wondering why people want to say they are but make comments that cause me to question their true beliefs. Persons who say they are Catholic and then denounce our Holy Father who is the successor of St. Peter who has the promise of the guidance of the Holy Spirit, are not Catholic at heart.
    I don't care if you think I am not Catholic or if you think I am, and Sjenner may not care what I think about her but this is a forum for discussion and so I can ask. You can, too. It is my way of pointing out how unCatholic her comments sound to me.

    June 26, 2010 at 10:49 am |
  9. Eric G

    The question is....... are you a real Catholic? Please prove that you are a real catholic.

    June 26, 2010 at 10:33 am |
  10. Chris

    I'm not sure why gay Christians don't just give up the ghost. A huge number of their fellow Christians hate them and try to enact draconian laws to keep them from living normal, happy lives. It's sickening. It reminds me of Log Cabin Republicans. How can you belong to a group that hates you and mocks you? There is a growing number of Atheists like myself and it's a direct result of religion being stuck in antiquity.

    June 26, 2010 at 9:00 am |
  11. ladyinfinity

    One final note:
    If Tony and Gary are indeed Christians (and who are we to say they aren't?) then they will go to heaven, their sins will be forgiven just as much as our sins will be forgiven.
    That's why Christ came in the first place, and that's The Mesage. Amen

    June 26, 2010 at 8:21 am |
    • CatholicMom

      Ladyinfinity,

      We cannot judge whether someone’s soul will make it to Heaven or not, not even our own soul; that judgment is God's alone.

      June 26, 2010 at 10:51 am |
    • inferno bound

      "for if we sin willfully after knowledge of the truth, there remaineth no more sacrifice for sins" Hebrews 10:26

      June 26, 2010 at 11:55 pm |
  12. inferno bound

    tony and gary both claim to be christians but both are gay. according to christian beliefs, this can't be. so why are people claiming to be of something that at the same time denies them? kinda like a jewish nazi in 1943

    June 25, 2010 at 11:49 pm |
    • CatholicMom

      inferno bound,
      Sin is not a person, it is an action!

      June 26, 2010 at 11:06 am |
  13. inferno bound

    ahh but this is about those you claim to be "christians".

    June 25, 2010 at 11:40 pm |
  14. jesuschrist

    Please don't impose your religious beliefs on me by giving non-sensical double-talk like, "I respect your religious beliefs, but if you don't believe that Jesus Christ is the saviour, you're going to hell. I believe in God, but I don't believe that Jesus Christ is the son of God, nor do I believe in any virgin having a child. You can believe whatever you want to believe, but realize that non-Christians have the right to have their own beliefs that may not be aligned with Christian beliefs but are as absolute as Christian beliefs.

    June 25, 2010 at 10:50 pm |
    • illlisten

      i absolutely agree people have the right to believe whatever they want to believe (according to US law.) i absolutely agree that different religious beliefs can be equally absolute (if you mean, they absolutely believe what they say they believe. i disagree that the deity they believe in is absolute, when they necessarily make claims that the others don't exist.

      June 25, 2010 at 11:20 pm |
  15. Christian Life

    1-Corinthians 14:34-35 "Let your women keep SILENCE in the churches: for it is NOT permitted unto them to speak; but they are COMMANDED to be under obedience, as also saith the LAW....And if they will learn any thing, let them ask their husbands at home: for it is a SHAME for women to speak in the church."...Ok...so...what does that tell you??? Not enough? Ok here is 1-Timothy 2:11-14 "Let the women learn in SILENCE with all subjection...But I suffer NOT a women to teach, nor usurp authority over man, but to be in SILENCE...For Adam was first formed then Eve...And Adam was not deceived, but the WOMAN BEING DECEIVED was in the transgression."....This pretty much say's women can NOT be preachers...even though it is noble of them to want to serve God. Revelations 22:18-19 "for I testify unto every man that heareth the words of the prophecy of this book. If any man shall add unto these thing, God shall add unto him the plagues that are written in this book." "And if any man shall take away from the words of the book of this prophecy, God shall take away his part out of the book of life and out of the Holy city and from the things that are written in this book." Revelations 22:7 "Behold I come quickly; blessed is he that keepeth the sayings of the prophecy of this book." This is real Christian life.

    June 25, 2010 at 10:45 pm |
    • inferno bound

      i was wondering why this was posted. now i know. the baby was baptized as a christian by a woman preacher.

      June 26, 2010 at 12:05 am |
    • ladyinfinity

      Women are soft spoken and naturally nurturing (as mothers). We are expected to be all gushy and loving. LOL.
      Gloria Copeland was teaching the other day. I'm sitting there ok...ok...ok...then Kenneth came on stage. He seemed to bring more authority, more power with him. Men are strong speakers, and more powerful people. When men are MEN they rock!
      The Bible says men should teach for a reason. I'm with them on that one. Or maybe it's just me?

      June 26, 2010 at 6:13 am |
  16. jesuschrist

    Yes, to Christians the bible is absolute. That is completely fine as long as you remember to qualify it with "to Christians." Like the Christian above said, "Don't go around trying to shove your beliefs down my throat." It goes both ways. And, they are just that – beliefs.

    June 25, 2010 at 10:41 pm |
  17. Tiffany

    Remember when people used to reference the Bible when arguing against interracial marriage? That was pretty ridiculous wasn't it?

    June 25, 2010 at 10:12 pm |
  18. edchan

    Christianity is based on Genesis to Revelation, if you have a stand that contradicts what Christianity believes then you have the right to believe in it, but please don't classify yourself to be a Christian. Call yourself whatever you want but as i understand it you are not part of Christianity if you believe that it is normal for two men to be married or two women to be married. If you think two wives or two husbands in a relationship can produce children, check again. Someone definitely is confused. I know i am not. God save us all....

    June 25, 2010 at 8:38 pm |
  19. jesuschrist

    The bible is a matter of belief not an absolute. The problem with Christians and organized religion in general is that you all think that you have the ultimate, absolute truth. If this was absolutely true, we would all believe the same thing. If you can't see the lack of logic in the fact that Christians say they know the "truth," and Muslims say that they know the "truth," and Mormons say they know the "truth," and people who follow Hindu say they know the "truth" it becomes quite obvious that "truth" is relative. Let us all get a grip on reality. That would do the world a lot of good.

    June 25, 2010 at 6:49 pm |
    • Christian Life

      to Christians, the Bible is absolute.

      June 25, 2010 at 9:53 pm |
    • illlisten

      the earth is round, most didnt believe it. their lack of belief had not effect on the roundness of the earth.

      to claim to be aware of "reality" is to make the same claim people of faith do.

      June 25, 2010 at 10:22 pm |
    • inferno bound

      and showing your beliefs or lack of, if you had been living at the time when people thought the earth was flat, then you would most likly been saying that yourself...again, this is because you show lack of a willing to believe.

      June 27, 2010 at 4:06 am |
  20. Randy

    These people are doing the same thing the Mormons did – making it up as they go along.

    They should come up with another designation, because they can't be Christians and live a gay life.

    June 25, 2010 at 3:55 pm |
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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.