“There’s no such thing as a Gay Christian any more than there’s such a thing as a Thieving Christian or a Child-Molesting Christian or a Murdering Christian.” Justin Peters, as quoted by @krazy4ujc over on Twitter last week.

I guess I just got fed up. We Christian LGBTQ+ people hear this ALL THE TIME. “There’s no such thing as a gay Christian.” But as I often say, “Funny, because here I am.” And then there are the people who say that our relationships and identities are sinful, sure, but no more or less than any other sin… child molestation, murder, theft… You know, “sin is sin,” after all.

And while I agree with Paul that “all have sinned and fallen short of the glory of God” (Romans 3:23), I just want to say that if you can’t tell the difference between child molestation, murder, theft and my love for Alejandro, well… I honestly have to wonder about your intellect, your judgment, your powers of observation or, frankly, your honesty. Because I think it’s pretty clear that one of these things is not like the other.

Let’s have a conversation about this, friends.

The first photo is of Josh Duggar, former executive director of FRC ACTION, a lobbying PAC sponsored by the Family Research Council, and oldest child of Michelle and Jim Bob Duggar, as featured in the reality show 19 Kids and Counting. In 2015, Duggar admitted to molesting multiple underage girls, including a victim under 5 years old. In 2021, he was convicted on charges of receiving and possessing child pornography. Josh Duggar is a Child-Molesting Christian.

The second photo is of Dennis Rader: family man, Cub Scout leader and president of the church council at Christ Lutheran, Wichita, Kansas. Rader is also known as the BTK (“bind, torture, kill”) Killer, the worst serial murderer in Kansas history. He’s currently serving ten consecutive life sentences. Dennis Rader is a Murdering Christian.

The third photo is of Kent Hovind, Young Earth creationist and founder of Creation Science Evangelism and Dinosaur Adventure Land. He frequently spoke on Young Earth creationism in schools, churches, debates, and on Christian radio and television broadcasts. Hovind was convicted in 2007 of failing to pay taxes, obstructing federal agents, and structuring cash transactions. He served a ten-year sentence. Kent Hovind is a Thieving Christian.

Bonus Content! In September 2021, Hovind was convicted of domestic violence against his estranged wife. Apparently, Kent Hovind is also a Violent Christian.

The fourth photo is of Pete Buttigieg, his husband Chasten, and their newly-adopted fraternal twins. Buttigieg is a devout Christian, politician and former military officer who is currently serving as the United States secretary of transportation.

Now you can take issue with his politics, but by nearly all accounts, Buttigieg has lived an exemplary life. He often talks about his faith in and devotion to Christ. His life seems to indicate that he desires to live a life of integrity, authenticity and public service. Pete Buttigieg is a Gay Christian.

So, back to Justin/Liz’s assertion. They believe that there is no difference between Duggar, Rader, Hovind and Buttigieg. But here’s the thing: If you honestly can’t see the difference, if you honestly can’t see which one “is not like the others,” then I have to honestly wonder about your Christian faith.

As you think about these four men, ask yourself where you see the fruit of the Spirit. Where do you see love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness and self-control? Do you see it in Duggar’s molestation of young girls including his sisters? In Rader’s binding, torturing and killing 10 people? In Hovind’s lies, theft and domestic abuse? Remember: These men were all well-respected in their faith communities. But beneath the surface… Yikes.

Or do you see the fruit of the Spirit in Buttigieg’s faithful love for his husband and children? And in the love that countless gay Christians have for our partners and families?

Our lives and loves have been condemned at every turn. We have had to fight for generations for the right to experience the simple joys of marriage. We have been told we don’t belong at the table of the Lord, that we are abominations, that our love for each other makes us deserving of eternal torture. And yet we still show up, still love and serve and worship and share and heal.

Our faith gives us resilience. Our faith reminds us that “NOTHING can separate us from the love of God which is in Christ Jesus our Lord” (Romans 8:38-39). Our faith gives us the strength to keep walking this path, to keep practicing our faith despite the ignorance and oppression of our enemies. Our faith inspires us to keep sharing the gospel, the Good News of Jesus, with a world that desperately needs to experience the welcoming, healing love of our beautiful Mother/Father God.

We’re not afraid of your insults, your lies, your mischaracterizations, your bad-faith “dialogue,” your easily-disproven, pseudoscientific nonsense, your poor interpretations and harmful applications of our (yes, OUR!) sacred text. “If God is for us, who can be against us” (Romans 8:31)? Whenever someone says “there’s no such thing as a gay Christian,” I’ll remember the communion of saints worshipping together at the Q Christian Fellowship conference. The sheer tenacity of these beautiful ones stubbornly pursuing God, gatekeepers be damned, is awe-inspiring.

A few final thoughts:.

This post is NOT about politics or Pete Buttigieg, or about gay Christians somehow being saints, for that matter. Of course none of us is perfect. Of course you can find examples of gay people, even gay Christians, behaving poorly.

This post IS about classic category error. When non-affirming Christians lump gay people in with child molesters, murderers, thieves, etc., they are getting two things wrong.

First of all, they are confusing orientation with behavior. I am gay when I eat, sleep, preach, blog, travel, vote or lead worship. I was gay when I was an evangelical pastor and married to a woman for 23 years. I am gay all the time, because my being gay is not dependent upon what I do. Being gay (orientation) is simply not in the same category as actions like molestation, murder or theft (behavior).

At this point, some non-affirming Christians might say “Fine, your orientation is not – in and of itself – sinful, but if you “act on it,” it becomes sinful. This is the second category error.

Behaviors like molestation, murder or theft are sinful. Same-sex romance/love/sex is not – in and of itself – sinful. Yes, I know about the bible verses. Yes, I’ve read Genesis, Leviticus, Romans, 1 Corinthians and 1 Timothy. These verses are NOT referring to loving same-sex relationships or LGBTQ+ people as we understand them in 2022. There are lots of helpful resources if you’re curious to learn about an LGBTQ+ affirming reading of these “clobber passages.” I recommend Dr. James Brownson’s Bible, Gender, Sexuality: Reframing the Church’s Debate on Same-Sex Relationships. For a quick overview, I recommend The Reformation Project’s Brief Biblical Case for LGBTQ Inclusion or Colby Martin’s One Page Cheat Sheets for All Six Clobber Passages, from his book Unclobber: Rethinking Our Misuse of the Bible on Homosexuality.

Unfortunately, many people are all too happy to talk about LGBTQ Christians without taking the time to talk with us. The aforementioned Liz (@krazy4ujc) was quick to block me when I started to challenge her pronouncement about gay Christians “not existing.” I’m not sure what she’s so afraid of.

Hey Liz… Hey Justin… Gay Christians exist. That’s the plain and simple truth. And remember what Jesus said? The truth sets us free (John 8:32).