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. FiRe and iCe

    I personally dont see anything wrong with bein a gay christian. I my self am an Atheist who just happens to believe in God.

    June 27, 2010 at 5:40 pm |
  2. jesuschrist

    I post again....well, well, well the persecuted become the persecutors . . .

    June 27, 2010 at 5:25 pm |
  3. jesuschrist

    @inferno bound. You say the bible is written as is and not open for interpretation, correct? So, you believe the world was created in seven days? One day being 24 hours?

    June 27, 2010 at 5:20 pm |
    • FiRe and iCe

      I believe in that but the current calender is ad back in them dayz there was no such thang as 24 hours. I know this cuz im edumacated.

      June 27, 2010 at 5:44 pm |
    • inferno bound

      i'm curious. how old are you? i'm just asking because most adults know that before (year 0 or the birth of christ) time was not measured like we know it today. when time was measured, it was done like In the [xth] year in the reign of Herod, ..." And then they recorded which monarchs came after each other. as for when the earth was created...you got me. i can't answer that. i honestly don't think anyone can. when you hear people say "oh those dinosaurs lived 300 billion BC" they are going by modern calendar that we know today.

      June 27, 2010 at 7:52 pm |
    • jesuschrist

      So, in other words time is relative or up for interpretation, and time is a concept necessarily in the bible, yet the bible can not be interpreted in more than one way? Clearly delineate what you mean when you say the bible cannot be interpreted in more than one way.

      June 27, 2010 at 8:55 pm |
    • inferno bound

      time in general. no one man living past or now can tell you. christian or not. your not christian...do you know?

      June 27, 2010 at 9:12 pm |
    • jesuschrist

      No, I am not Christian. I don't know who set the standards of time, but as you pointed out it was different depending on the point in time in the past. But you seem to be telling me that there is only ONE way to interpret the Bible. Which way is that? Is seven days not seven days as someone now would interpret it? Was seven days the equivalent of 3 weeks back in some time in the past? You seem to be saying out of one side of your mouth that you can't interpret the bible in anyway but one way, the "right" way, but out of the other side you're saying that time which is an element in the bible is relative, in other words it isn't really the seven days as we perceive it today but is to be interpreted differently not literally. So, how is that argument cogent when even something as menial as time cannot be standardized? It seems to me that all of this is relative. Furthermore, I don't see how you can prove me wrong without resorting to non-evidence like "blind faith," or circular logic - "It just is because it is."

      June 27, 2010 at 10:15 pm |
    • inferno bound

      who are we to question time. questioning time from the bible would be as the same questioning what wood was. or the sun or the moon or even a rock. your remark on this is trivial at best.

      June 27, 2010 at 11:14 pm |
    • inferno bound

      for a child born today did not know the time of yesterday. eric, before you were born, you did not know the time of when your parents were with out child. but yet you KNOW for a fact there was time. don't you?

      June 27, 2010 at 11:19 pm |
    • inferno bound

      now, since there is no way that you do not know for a fact that time was the same before you was born...as it is now...because you was not there or alive at the time...you know that it was the same, don't you? this is a belief that you have faith! it is instilled with in you.

      June 27, 2010 at 11:45 pm |
  4. ladyinfinity

    This whole thing isn't just about Gary and Tony. The point is: As we accept and eventually condone their behavior and it beomes 'the norm', then what's next? Will we allow a man to leave his wife to marry his daughter? his son? his goat? How far will we allow morality to degrade to protect peoples rights? The US is going to hell in a handbasket and we're just standing around saying 'Yea" and waving it off. Sad.

    June 27, 2010 at 3:53 pm |
    • Eric G

      Nobody left their wife here. Is that the problem? I noticed you put that first in your rant. Then you put "his" in front off all your examples. Is your problem with gays or just men in general? What do you think we, as a society, should do about gays and lesbians?

      June 27, 2010 at 4:12 pm |
    • inferno bound

      it's not just america. the whole world is in this flux. correct me if i'm wrong. but the bible does say this will happen.

      June 27, 2010 at 8:21 pm |
  5. inferno bound

    well, they are professing that they are christians. 🙂

    June 27, 2010 at 2:11 pm |
  6. Eric G

    Because christians use their "beliefs" to justify the hatred they have of gays and lesbians. As a member of society, it is my duty to confront those who would discriminate against others. By the way, it's "stake" not "steak".

    June 27, 2010 at 2:05 pm |
  7. Leroy Jackson

    the bible endorses and forbids many things that modern christians do not believe in: slavery, stoning your kids for rebellion, human sacrafice, etc. So it seems people pick and choose from the bible to begin with so why not just disregard it entirely and use reason and science to decide what is harmful and beneficial – god bless these guys

    June 27, 2010 at 2:01 pm |
  8. inferno bound

    eric, alma is going by the same bible we are. its not any one persons view, it's the view of christians.

    June 27, 2010 at 1:03 pm |
  9. snafu

    I am not gay, but if I was I would probably not be a Christian because why would I follow a teaching that hates homosexuality?

    Religion divides and separates.

    June 27, 2010 at 12:45 pm |
    • inferno bound

      sure does! between good and evil. 🙂

      June 27, 2010 at 1:25 pm |
    • blueJ

      More like hate and more hate.

      June 27, 2010 at 6:10 pm |
  10. albro

    Christians. Gay-Christians. Black-Gay Christians. Club-footed-Black-Gay-Christians!!!! Must we become a society of hyphenataed people? Does EVERYONE have to have a special group-title? IS NO-ONE JUST AN AMERICAN ANYMORE??? Stop, please stop, defining yourselves by your own private little sub-ethnicity! This is why we are called "America- the cold melting-pot". Americans are all so thoroughly self-absorbed that we cant ever get anything done, becasue we're constantly trying to represent our own little sub-group, and nobody ever asks what would be best for AMERICA!!

    June 27, 2010 at 12:19 pm |
    • inferno bound

      christianity is not just american, it's global. this has absolutely nothing to do with being an american.

      June 27, 2010 at 1:22 pm |
  11. christian for life

    i'll try it again. alma, this gay couple say they are christians. christian morality is the bible. they are claiming the very thing that damns them. i wouldn't be here posting if they said they were non-christians. so yes, it is sad that they are raising a child in sin. this is not about anything else other then their claims that the christian god told them that it was ok to be gay and raise a child. as the christian god would never tell any one that it is ok to go against gods own word in the bible. if they weren't christians, i wouldn't care what they did. as for your view on marriage. this is your statement " marriage was CREATED AS AN INSTITUTION TO SHARE WEALTH AND GOODS, NOT BECAUSE THE COUPLE WAS A MAN AND WOMAN." do you really think this? do you really believe marriage is based on material things? god made it very clear that same sex relation is NOT ok. so what bible are you reading?

    June 27, 2010 at 12:15 pm |
    • Eric G

      "Christian morality is the bible." That really says it all. I think you should reconsider your position on that one. Do you believe that the bible is a good definition of your god's character? If so, I know that my morals are superior.

      June 27, 2010 at 1:06 pm |
    • Eric G

      @inferno bound: Thank you for proving my point. Your response is childish. I did not insult you. I asked a question and you decided it would be better to try insults rather than have a discussion. If you would like to answer my question, I would be happy to discuss it with you. If your responses are going to be of the caliber of your last post, please go play with the other children, the adults are talking now.

      June 27, 2010 at 1:26 pm |
    • inferno bound

      yup, sadly to say, the bible is very accurate about people like you. i will pray for you.

      June 27, 2010 at 1:42 pm |
  12. Eric G

    So, she should drop her own views on what defines a marriage and adopt your views? Are they your views, or are they the views that you read in the bible? Do you only reference the bible because it agrees with your homophobic views? Who gives you the authority to decide for others what the proper definition of marriage is?

    June 27, 2010 at 12:15 pm |
    • HeIsGod

      @ Eric G – It's not our view. Mankind views are corrupted and deceiving. We abide the Word of God that gives us direction, guidance, help, love, healing, comfort, rebuke, corrections, etc. It is the very map for our lives. When someone travels to another country that they never been to, they need to view the map in other to know where they are going. They have to have to view the map more than once when they travel often. As you and I know, we are all here for just a short time, one can and will never live forever on earth. But many are traveling this earth with not direction or guidance and are blinded with the things of the World and this is not the purpose of God for our lives.

      June 27, 2010 at 10:09 pm |
  13. Donna

    While the bible is a very nice book, full of interesting stories, it is too open to anyone's interpretation to be the answer to any situation. As for the comment that was made about women/women and men/men, not being able to procreate, well, aren't there many heterosexuals turning to science to give them babies? What is their hidden sin? There are many who would sit here iin judgment about this couple and their baby, and feel morally justified in their self-righteousness. I believe they will go on to have a great relationship with their son and with god. Why don't we congratulate them on finding acceptance within a non-judgmental church and wish them success on raising a non-judgmental son? By the way, it is a fact that more heterosexual couples raise homosexual children than homosexuals, and is statistically supported. Instead of throwing stones, take out your mirror, and polish it up so you can really see yourself. Congratulations Tony and Gary.

    June 27, 2010 at 10:18 am |
    • inferno bound

      donna, the bible is not open to interpretation. it's written as is. to be taken as is. what part of do not means anything else but do not?

      June 27, 2010 at 1:06 pm |
  14. inferno bound

    yet non-believer have yet to raise logic here, nor anywhere else for that matter. but you can try to cause strife with in people. that just may be your calling in life.

    June 27, 2010 at 4:18 am |
    • blueJ

      Your calling in life is stuck on a loop, much like your family tree err, I mean wreath.

      June 27, 2010 at 6:18 pm |
  15. Alma

    I was expecting the hatred and the misleading comments from a lot of people so I'm here to actually shine some happiness in this topic. I don't think marriage is something that is defined by people being straight, I've seen many straight couples do so much damage to their children than any gay couple I've known, so it's sad that you're saying that their son will suffer from his parents being two men. As long as they love him and care for him and offer him guidance and support, he will thrive and be just fine.

    How many kids can say they have two parents who love them unconditionally? I'm happy that they have a son and will raise him to be open and honest with other people; he will be a much better human being than most of you people posting on here and rambling about sin. And to answer the marriage question, marriage was CREATED AS AN INSTITUTION TO SHARE WEALTH AND GOODS, NOT BECAUSE THE COUPLE WAS A MAN AND WOMAN.

    The couple in this article seem committed to each other and their family and to God's openness and love. it's sad that none of you seem to have learned that from the Bible.

    June 27, 2010 at 3:52 am |
    • inferno bound

      only the immorality of humans have same sex relations and that is not natural. i really think the animal kingdom has more morals then humans.

      June 27, 2010 at 10:23 am |
    • HeIsGod

      @ inferno bound – AMEN, very well said!

      June 27, 2010 at 9:53 pm |
  16. inferno bound

    oh, and this blog is about gay's and christians, gay's saying they are christians. i'm not sure why athiest and other non-believers are here muddling up this blog. unless they are here just to cause strife. but as world history has shown, this behavior is typical. the bible is correct on this too, there will be those who cause strife and try to interfere with the teachings of God. funny how the words of people centuries past still ring true today.

    June 27, 2010 at 3:47 am |
    • Eric G

      "The words of people from centuries past". Very accurate because that is what the bible is, words of people. People who wanted control, people who were bigoted, and people who wanted an authority figure to back up their bigoted beliefs. You are fully entitled to believe what ever you like. But, please acknowledge that they are YOUR beliefs, not your gods.

      June 27, 2010 at 12:36 pm |
    • inferno bound

      i see the bible to be very accurate. it does warn about people such as your self who try to interfere with teaching the word of god. why are you so full of hate toward christians? who damaged you? you don't need to live behind anger and hatred.

      June 27, 2010 at 1:18 pm |
  17. HeIsGod

    I am with you on this one!! He/she needs to repent and ask God for guidance in reaching out to people!

    June 27, 2010 at 1:03 am |
  18. angela

    if you believe the Bible is God's Word, then you must take ALL of it as ABSOLUTE TRUTH – and the Truth is that homosexuality is NOT, in any capacity, God's plan for his people. Pray for those who are in sexual sins such as homosexuality, pray that they are moved by the Holy Spirit and convicted of their sin!

    I am NOT without sin, surely. But I acknowledge when I sin. The difference between us is that homosexuals blatantly sin and REFUSE to own up to it. Repent and be healed. Don't "struggle" with it – give your beloved sin up. For the blessings in Heaven with be so much greater than the small lustful musings of this earthly life.

    June 27, 2010 at 12:46 am |
  19. HeIsGod

    If there is a homosexual Christian, this person is just proclaiming they are not. Also, they may attend a Christian Church, but not be delivered from the spirit of homosexuality. Until, he/she realizes that his/her homosexuality is a sin, this so-called Christian will not inherit the Kingdom of God, as well as those luke-warm Christians that are holy on Sundays, but are children of the devil, Monday through Saturday.....yes, we have those type of Christians, no one is perfect, we are need the Mercy and Grace of God. But sadly, even some Christians will not make it to heaven, only those who has done the Will of my Father.

    June 27, 2010 at 12:45 am |
    • inferno bound

      very true, the bible does say in several places about people who profess to be of god. like 2 timothy 2:5 &7 having a form of godliness but denying the power thererof; ever learning and never able to come to the knowledge of the truth.

      June 27, 2010 at 1:39 pm |
  20. Congratulations to you and your beautiful son

    I just watched the CNN documentary and I was so moved by the love and compassion that you have for eachother and for that precious little boy. He is so darling. When you wept, I wept. Let no one take away from you any joy in your lives together. I firmly beleve that God blesses nonjudgementalness. God will bless you two and that precious baby. Just you wait and see. Afterall, it was God's miracle that brought Nicholas here. Peace be with you. Deborah

    June 26, 2010 at 11:31 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.