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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. Cindy

    This is an interesting debate and one that won't be solved here, but for what it's worth, here's my opinion. I grew up in an extremely conservative, religious home. I have always been taught that homosexuality was wrong and I still believe that it is. I also believe that lying, stealing, cheating, alcoholism, drug abuse, addiction to other substances (including food) are sins as well. We tend to "rate" sins but according to God, "All have sinned and fall short of the glory of God." None of us is good enough on our own. So, I suppose, a gay or lesbian could be considered a "Christian" but in my opinion, only if they recognize that their lifestyle is sinful and are trying to change, just as we all should be in our areas of weakness. I agree with those who said we should "Love our neighbor" but I do not condone the homosexual lifestyle and don't appreciate the media's efforts to make it seem appropriate.

    July 17, 2010 at 3:29 am |
  2. Daisy

    I will pray for you, Ryan, that God has mercy on your soul when you stand before him on Judgement Day-and you will stand before him.

    July 16, 2010 at 7:53 pm |
  3. Nathan

    Tony and Gary have found a religion that will accept their lifestyle. It just is not a Christian religion. If every newspaper editor in the world called a goat a lamb, it would not change the fact that it is a goat. To be a Christian means to follow Christ. You can be a church member and still not be a Christian. The church he belongs to obviously does not follow Christian teachings, but has decided upon a social gospel...to be a club like the Optimist, etc.

    July 16, 2010 at 4:58 pm |
  4. Realistboy

    All gay people want is to be equal and not have to worry about what god thinks. Remember not everyone will get to go to heaven. So, why not let them live their lives the way they want, god did give us free will. As for raising a child, well if straight people would stop having kids they cannot take care of then the GLBTQ community should have rights to adopt them. Of course I don't understand the thinking of having my own child it since Im in a relastionship that cannot produce one then I should be able to adopt your children that you just throw away like garbage. Those children need just as much love from "anyone" that will give it to them that is what is really important in a childs life and as for adulturers remember all the people that get divorced and remarried are commiting adultery. Have a lovely weekend.

    July 15, 2010 at 8:34 pm |
  5. aginghippy

    What a shame that the author felt the need to be accepted by religious wingnuts. Had he sought fellowship with atheists, not only would he have been accepted unconditionally, but could have learned that there is no skydaddy who gives a damn who you love or how you love.

    July 14, 2010 at 3:05 pm |
  6. Oxymoron

    being gay and christian is like be a adulturer and christian. both are wrong in church and state.

    July 13, 2010 at 9:15 pm |
  7. Kali

    i just don't understand how this is our problem? if they're gay and christian, let God handle it. Let him be on the one to cast judgement, not us. No human is perfect and the Bible says that all sin is the same in God's eyes. we're all sinners.

    July 13, 2010 at 2:59 pm |
    • Okay

      You are correct in that God will handle it. However, it is a big deal because we have people that are perverting the truth and causing a lot of people to believe in a lifestyle in which God does not approve and will punish. It is the same as not telling someone they are walking into a burning building.

      July 14, 2010 at 1:16 am |
  8. SavedByGrace

    I can't tell you how much I Don't Care!
    God said to cast all your problems and thoughts upon Him. It's His problem to deal with, not ours.
    Everybody say it out loud: I Don't Care!!!
    Thank you Creflo Dollar for this answer and taking the burden away 🙂

    July 12, 2010 at 7:21 am |
  9. RamblinRose

    I'll take a committed gay couple parenting any day over Jerry Springer-style hetero's who pop out babies without any more thought than ordering a hamburger at the McDonalds. Then one parent (usually the Dad) bails and another single mother is on the welfare rolls.

    July 9, 2010 at 5:38 pm |
  10. Billy

    we should love the sinner but hate the sin. Romans 5:8 says "But God demonstrates his love for us in this that while we were still sinners Christ died for us". This is clear that God loved us though we were sinner but He did send his son to suffer and die for our sins. I don't think you can be gay and Christian because the holy spirit will convict your sins and you will leave your sins behind.

    July 9, 2010 at 12:48 pm |
    • Rev. William H. Carey

      There are hundreds of thousands of gay Christians who would have to disagree with you, Billy. Our Christianity is based on our relationship with Jesus, and no one other than Jesus is qualified to judge it.

      July 9, 2010 at 5:03 pm |
  11. nancy

    People need to STOP using God in ways like this. If gays want equal rights, they should fight for it by using the constitution NOT the bible. For the bible cleary says "God gave them over to shameful lusts. Even their women exchanged natural relations for unnatural ones"(Romans 1:26)

    July 9, 2010 at 12:42 am |
  12. Mike H.

    How many adulterers and liars step into church every Sunday to proclaim their love of Christ? How many church-goers spend time afterward gossiping? These are behaviors that are chosen.

    Now, let's think about sexuality. Many here declare that it is a choice to be homosexual. Really? Can you choose to revert between hetero- and homosexualilty? Seriously? If it's a choice why would anyone elect to take a path toward persecution and discrimination? You condemn homosexuals as evil. Why? Why not encourage them to come into the church? Are you a bunch of Fred Phelps clones? Are you that wicked?

    The verse that stands out is John 3:16. It makes no reference to any sins. It simply describes what it takes to be a Christian.

    As for those who have sadly chosen to dismiss all religions and faiths, why bother writing a reply to this subject? Multiple times I read how ridiculous religion is and how we should accept homosexuality. The point of this editorial was to merge homosexuality and Christianity. The two are interwoven in this article.

    July 6, 2010 at 5:35 am |
  13. Truth2You

    I have heard much on this subject, and it is very disappointing, but then again, it is not; because I would´nt expect any thing less from the secular world, than to continually portray sin as not sin. What God has deemed as sin is sin, and shall remain sin till the end, no matter how much secular society seeks to legitimize sin as not being sin. The great deception of this, is that because the world embraces sin as acceptable, that somehow those willfully, deliberately living in a particular sin suppose that it must then be alright with God, and they even find false teachers, which say they represent God, to tell them what they wish to hear. The title of the sin is irrelevant, and it is of none effect that willful sinner´s would say they belong to Christ; the issue for us which do believe the Truth according to God is that we will continue to hope and wish with God that they would rather choose to come to repentance, rather than to perish. And now because this particular sin is so seemingly accepted as not sin by the majority, it causes them which are living therein to think they are on the side of right, and they just leave their sin untouched, as if it doesn´t exist; and this is what the disaster of their downfall is. Because now for many of them, God has given up on them, and turned them over to their own will, and to a mind void of the ability to distiguish between right and wrong, and good and evil. I would just add, that if there would be one thing that I wish they would hear from Christ, is what Christ requires, that they first must deny their own will, but until then, they will not know Him.

    July 5, 2010 at 11:06 am |
  14. Tony Mississippi

    OH, After being together for 22yrs we have decided to have children, probably three since I come from a large family. As 2 succesful gay men we have plenty of disposable income to raise a healthy family. I feel very blessed to be at this point in my life. Many of my gay friends have children, it is a lot more common than most of you think.

    July 3, 2010 at 2:52 pm |
  15. Tony Mississippi

    Sasha....You and those like you are the ones that need to wake up. I have studied the Bible extensivley. Educate yourself on the original language the Bible was written in, the time it was translated with man's agenda's shaping it. The fact they were ill prepared to translate the Bible and molded it to their wants and needs. This is not my opinion, it is independant facts. Educate yourself and stop being so self rightous, in other words know what you are talking about.
    You or anyone else have no right to tell someone they are not a Christian or to judge that person. That is a sin my friend!

    July 3, 2010 at 2:45 pm |
  16. Tony Mississippi

    Amazing the number of people here calling themselves Christians, cherry picking things from the Bible to support their personal views but ignoring the ones that would damn them just as much as what they quote. The Bible was written in Aramaic and was translated during King James's time. It is now a known fact that many of the translation are wrong.
    Regardless, I am a Christian, I know where I am going when I die, I have a personal reslationship with Jesus Christ, I am Gay and been in a stable relationship for 22 years. I wanted children and still do, we have so much to offer a child that I see they are not getting from their "parents". Both my sisters came to us for help in raising their children who are now grown, they call my partner Uncle and it is "normal" to them.
    Before you judge in the name of being a Christian make sure you know the facts, take a good look at yourself and know you will be judged by the one that matters. Your Judgment does not.
    I wish Tony and Gary the best, that is one very fortunate child. It is a FACT that gay people overwhelmingly raise children that are well adjusted, balanced, have a goals and lead a happy life. Of course there are those that do not do the best of jobs. I will say I have seen many straight people get bent out of shape when they see how much better the children of gay couples turn out versus their own children. That is just my own observation.

    July 3, 2010 at 2:29 pm |
  17. Forrest

    What a perfectly beautiful story of two men in a loving relationship finding fulfillment in their life together . And, raising a child who is destined to be a more perfectly form child/person by having such a loving parents. As we become acquainted with more and more families of same gender parents my wife and I marvel at the love and beauty expressed. Our thanks to this couple and their willingness to speak publicly of their love. We stand with this family; we stand with them on the side of love!

    July 2, 2010 at 11:21 pm |
  18. Inyourdreams

    why are you taking comments if your not going to post them?

    June 30, 2010 at 4:53 pm |
  19. nonesuch

    HeIsGod: but there are too many ignorant fools that think that they know so much about God,
    ----–
    You are the perfect example.

    June 29, 2010 at 3:24 pm |
  20. nonesuch

    What a bunch of nuts. A person can't be gay and Christian? Says who? You? You're nobody. You don't know what God is or what He wants at all.

    Get over yourselves. Nobody, including God, cares what you think, if your brain-farts can even be called "thinking".

    June 29, 2010 at 3:17 pm |
    • stevenson

      Paul the Apostle says this. just to answer your question.

      July 3, 2010 at 2:37 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.