Category Archives: Seeds of Hope

“If I Tell My Church They Will Say I’m A Sinner”

I’ve been questioning my sexuality. I think I’m bisexual but I’m not sure. But I’m scared if I tell my friends they will not like me anymore and if I tell my church they will say I’m a sinner. Do you have anything to help?

Dear Gen Renaud,

It seems your concerns appear to involve a lot of fear of the unknown. You fear that if you pursue the life of your sexual orientation will you end up being rejected by your friends and your church will judge you as a person worthy of hell.

I have come to recognize that your fears and concerns are rooted in the way you were taught to view God. So in essence, the only way that you will be able to get past those fears is to change the way you view God. So let’s see if we can help with that.

A book written by Bruce Bawer called “Stealing Jesus: How Fundamentalism Betrays Christianity” helps us to understand the real source of our fears when it comes to sexuality. The source of this fear is the difference between an attitude of love and an attitude of law. On page 5 of this book Mr. Bawer states:

Simply stated, conservative Christianity focuses primarily on law, doctrine, and authority; liberal Christianity focuses on love, spiritual experience and… the priesthood of all believers. If conservative Christians emphasize the Great Commission — the resurrected Christ’s injunction, at the end of the Gospel according to Matthew, “go to all the nations and make them my disciples” — liberal Christians place more emphasis on the Great Commandment, which in Luke’s Gospel reads as follows: “Love the Lord your God with all your heart, and with all your soul, with all your strength, and with all your mind; and your neighbor as yourself.”

What these few words means is we have a choice as to whether we see God as a strict authoritarian who demands that all come to God in a specify way or we see God as a loving Creator who desires that all would come to God and would treat each other accordingly.

You seem to be focused on the point of view that is based on the law and authority figures who have decided they speak on behalf of God.

Yes, you can make a choice as to how you shall view God and who you will choose to believe.

However, I must tell you that to believe God would create something with free will and then ultimately destroy that creation because it didn’t follow the law is rubbish.

Why did Jesus when asked, state that the Greatest Commandment was to love God and to love your Neighbor? He never said in order to be okay with God and not go to hell you must obey the law of the church (synagogue), rather he spent all of his ministry telling folks to love God and giving them example after example of how they could show and could live that love. The women caught in adultery, the raising of Lazarus, the blind person healed, the Roman Centurion slave healed, the women with the issue of blood healed.

Read Jesus’ words:

When you have done this to the least of my brothers or sisters you have done this to me. (Matthew 25:40)

Be not be judges of others, and you will not be judged. For as you have been judging, so you will be judged, and with your measure will it be measured to you. And why do you take note of the grain of dust in your brother’s eye, but take no note of the bit of wood which is in your eye? (Matthew 7:1-3)

Then Jesus said to the people and to his disciples: “The scribes and the Pharisees have the authority of Moses; All things, then, which they give you orders to do, these do and keep: but do not take their works as your example, for they say and do not. They make hard laws and put great weights on men’s backs; but they themselves will not put a finger to them.” (Matthew 23:1-4)

But a curse is on you, scribes and Pharisees, false ones! because you are shutting the kingdom of heaven against men: for you do not go in yourselves, and those who are going in, you keep back. A curse is on you, scribes and Pharisees, false ones! for you go about land and sea to get one disciple and, having him, you make him twice as much a son of hell as yourselves. A curse is on you, blind guides, who say, Whoever takes an oath by the Temple, it is nothing; but whoever takes an oath by the gold of the Temple, he is responsible. You foolish ones and blind: which is greater, the gold, or the Temple which makes the gold holy? (Matthew 23:13-17)

Yes, my child of God you can chose to live in fear by the law, authority and or judgements of those around you or you can choose to live by the words of Jesus and his examples.

If your church decides to call you a sinner then know there are other churches you can belong to which teach about a loving God. I challenge you to read the words of Jesus and see that all fear has been cast out and in its place given that of perfect love.

God Bless,
Pastor Paul

Rev. Paul M. Turner

About Rev. Paul M. Turner

Founding and Senior Pastor of Gentle Spirit Christian Church, Rev. Paul M. Turner grew up in suburban Chicago and was ordained by the Universal Fellowship of Metropolitan Community Churches in 1989. He and his husband Bill have lived in metro Atlanta since 1994. He is the editor of the Seeds of Hope blog whose posts from 1999-2005 are at http://whosoever.org/seeds/ -- and which now resides at http://gentlespirit.org/topics/blog/seeds-of-hope/.

“I Just Don’t Understand Why I’m This Way”

I’m a gay woman tormented by hell fears since I was 16. When I’m not practicing I’m OK but lonely, and when I’m in a relationship with a woman I love… I fear hell. Surely God looks worse on gay people. I just don’t understand why I’m this way. I love it but hate it only for fear of hell. If you can help me at all with any of that I’d be eternally grateful. God bless. My name is Lynda and I love God dearly and try hard to be a good Christian.

Dear Lynda,

I am so sorry you are living with this fear of not being OK with God and of being sent somewhere that prevents any kind of relationship with God.

There are certainly a lot of people today who fear “hell” as if it were a particular place. But when one does the research and study surrounding the word “hell” and its true meaning, one is more likely to find that it actually means “the total absence of God”. In other words, hell is not a place but rather a state of being. In which case it really is about your attitude to God versus being about a physical place.

The next thing I suggest you consider is: Who supposedly ends up in this place where there is a total absence of God? Well, by definition that would be people who have no relationship with God at all. In fact, Jesus said that the only unforgivable sin is to blaspheme the Holy Spirit – and in order to do that you would have to totally reject your relationship with God.

I realize that at this point you may not feel as though I’m addressing your concerns – but please bear with me, take a deep breath and answer these two questions:

    Do you love God?
    Do you want a relationship with God?

If your answer to those two questions is yes, then “hell” is not now, nor has it ever been, a possibility for you. Read the story of the “Prodigal Son” found in Luke 15:11-32. You will see in this story that as soon as the son desired a relationship with his father, this happened:

“When he was still a long way off, his father saw him. His heart pounding, he ran out, embraced him, and kissed him. The son started his speech: ‘Father, I’ve sinned against God, I’ve sinned before you; I don’t deserve to be called your son ever again.’

But the father wasn’t listening.”

The point of the parable being that the father (God) only cared that his son (the sinner) wanted a relationship with him. Nothing else mattered – least of all, past behavior. “The father wasn’t listening” to his son’s attempt at a confession, because all the father cared about was that his son had turned back to him.

As far as you and your girlfriend are concerned, your love for each other is what is important to God. The love you share with her, having God at the center, has no possibility of “hell” ever being part of your life’s picture.

God desires to be in relationship with us, and who we fall in love with has zero to do with hell. Celebrate your love for your girlfriend and your relationship with God – and, my dear sister, you will be just fine!

God Bless,
Pastor Paul

Rev. Paul M. Turner

About Rev. Paul M. Turner

Founding and Senior Pastor of Gentle Spirit Christian Church, Rev. Paul M. Turner grew up in suburban Chicago and was ordained by the Universal Fellowship of Metropolitan Community Churches in 1989. He and his husband Bill have lived in metro Atlanta since 1994. He is the editor of the Seeds of Hope blog whose posts from 1999-2005 are at http://whosoever.org/seeds/ -- and which now resides at http://gentlespirit.org/topics/blog/seeds-of-hope/.

“Am I Going to Hell?”

My name is Ken. I was raised conservative Church of God and I have been taught my whole life that homosexuality is a sin. I began my coming out journey about five years ago when I was fifteen. Now I am in a committed relationship with a guy who was raised the same way I was. He too believes that we are both going to hell, but we don’t know how to change. We have prayed and fasted but to no avail. My question is this: Are we really going to hell for following our hearts?

Dear Ken,

Thank you for your letter. The struggle you and your boyfriend are having is because the institutional church has not caught up with the modern-day world when it comes to matters of sexuality.

Old ideas around sexuality are still being applied to people today, and they just don’t fit as God’s people have grown past the ignorance and a lack of understanding of how and why sex is practiced.

Here are just two quick examples:

    • Biblical marriage required “planting a seed” that grew into a baby. We know that is not how reproduction works.
    • To be married in the biblical sense meant the woman was the property of her father, who made a business deal with the groom to have his daughter. (Ask your Mom whose property she is.)

The “Bible” version that has been preached to you concerning this issue is full of inaccuracies and misunderstandings of the culture. There is plenty of biblical scholarship that points to the fact that gay folks are loved by God, and were created that way, and therefore are a blessing in this world.

Please take a look at this URL: http://whosoever.org/bible/
And this one: https://gentlespirit.org/topics/blog/bible-study/lgbt-bible-study/

I would be most happy to answer any questions that you might have after reading it over.

The fact that you and your boyfriend are in a committed relationship with God as your center is far more important than the gender of the two people sharing that love. The reason the prayer and fasting are not working is because there is nothing to change.

Do the homework I gave you, and know that neither you nor your boyfriend is going to hell for following your heart of love and commitment.

God Bless,
Pastor Paul

Rev. Paul M. Turner

About Rev. Paul M. Turner

Founding and Senior Pastor of Gentle Spirit Christian Church, Rev. Paul M. Turner grew up in suburban Chicago and was ordained by the Universal Fellowship of Metropolitan Community Churches in 1989. He and his husband Bill have lived in metro Atlanta since 1994. He is the editor of the Seeds of Hope blog whose posts from 1999-2005 are at http://whosoever.org/seeds/ -- and which now resides at http://gentlespirit.org/topics/blog/seeds-of-hope/.

“I Don’t Feel Like I’m Doing Well at Being a Christian”

I am gay, and 20 years old… I honestly can say that I am not happy. I don’t feel like I’m doing well at being a Christian. I try to pray but I am inconsistent, and sometimes I have no clue where I will end up. I feel like God is in some way absent because of my relationship with a woman or maybe just because I am gay.

I want so badly to be connected with Him. I know that if I have Him, I need nothing more. I long for the morning I wake up entirely alone and am serene because He is there with me. I tear up at the idea of God speaking to me. Accepting me without change.

But a voice in the back of my mind always makes me think that I am wrong. That I must change in order to walk with Him or to know my full potential. I just want peace. Not to be appeased. I want to walk with Him properly, but something in my heart is not connected with him yet. I want to be connected with Him.

Please help me to figure out what I can do to Grow closer to Him. I know he is all I need.

Dear Akira,

First let me say from the beginning; your sexual orientation has nothing to do with God loving you or not. As for how you are doing as a Christian, maybe a quick read of these passages with help you figure that out:

1) Do you love God with all your heart, soul and mind?

“Love the Lord your God with all your passion and prayer and intelligence.” This is the most important, the first on any list. But there is a second to set alongside it: “Love others as well as you love yourself.” These two commands are pegs; everything in God’s Law and the Prophets hangs from them. (Matthew 22:34-40)

2) Are you feeding the hungry? Clothing the naked? Giving drink to the thirsty? Visiting the sick and those in prison?

Then the King will say to those on his right, “Enter, you who are blessed by my God! Take what’s coming to you in this kingdom. It’s been ready for you since the world’s foundation. And here’s why:

I was hungry and you fed me,
I was thirsty and you gave me a drink,
I was homeless and you gave me a room,
I was shivering and you gave me clothes,
I was sick and you stopped to visit,
I was in prison and you came to me.”

Then those ‘sheep’ are going to say, “Master, what are you talking about? When did we ever see you hungry and feed you, thirsty and give you a drink? And when did we ever see you sick or in prison and come to you?” Then the King will say, “I’m telling the solemn truth: Whenever you did one of these things to someone overlooked or ignored, that was me – you did it to me.” (Matthew 25:31-40)

3) You love God and are in relationship with God, then believe these words of Jesus:

Don’t let this throw you. You trust God, don’t you? Trust me. There is plenty of room for you in God’s home. If that weren’t so, would I have told you that I’m on my way to get a room ready for you? And if I’m on my way to get your room ready, I’ll come back and get you so you can live where I live. And you already know the road I’m taking. (John 14:1-4)

My friend, these are the tools by which to measure how you are doing, not who you are in love with. In fact whom you love will come about because of doing these things… regardless of gender!

God Bless,
Pastor Paul

Rev. Paul M. Turner

About Rev. Paul M. Turner

Founding and Senior Pastor of Gentle Spirit Christian Church, Rev. Paul M. Turner grew up in suburban Chicago and was ordained by the Universal Fellowship of Metropolitan Community Churches in 1989. He and his husband Bill have lived in metro Atlanta since 1994. He is the editor of the Seeds of Hope blog whose posts from 1999-2005 are at http://whosoever.org/seeds/ -- and which now resides at http://gentlespirit.org/topics/blog/seeds-of-hope/.