Because Jesus Didn't Speak About It, I Will

Hillsong Christopher Abreu

For almost a year now I have been attending Mission Bay Community Church in San Francisco, before that Metropolitan Community Church in New York, Orlando, and Saint Louis, and Hillsong Church in New York and London.

A friend of mine recently pointed me to the following article as posted in the Huffington Post:

The title is self explanatory on their public stance on Homosexuality. They just won’t talk about it because Jesus never did. OK, I can accept that. If it were true. I do not know all the things Jesus said so I can not comment on that front. But I can comment of what Hillsong has done or said, maybe not publicly but certainly privately.

I attended Hillsong London for exactly one year (Jan 1, 2012 - Dec 31, 2012). In that time I attended Sunday services regularly, took part in the community bible study known as Connect Groups, attended classes in their Bible College, made loving friendships, and I was even baptized (full submersion in water) by their Pastors. I loved Hillsong. My faith there became a rock that allowed me to continue being moved around by life without fear of what was coming next. I loved everything about Hillsong.

That is a lie. There is one thing I hate about Hillsong. I hate the lie that they tell.

When I first attended Hillsong I was not aware of their stance on Homosexuality, something I think about whenever I visit a new church. Which is why, when one of their Pastors asked me if I wanted to meet him for a coffee and get to know each other better, I jumped on the opportunity and said yes. I asked, in email, what the stance was before meeting and he reassured me that it would be better to speak in person.

I met with him and had a great talk about faith, what the church aims to accomplish, and on the fact that the church does not discriminate and has no public view on the matter. They accept everyone for who they are and all are welcomed. When I asked if there were any groups or resources for LGBT Christians, I was told that there weren’t any. I accepted that for being what it was and dropped the matter.

I should point out that the London branch of Hillsong has about 10,000 attendees. Clearly I am not the only gay in the village, but it seemed I was the only one who was willing to be vocal about it. No one cared, everyone took me in, and life was good. I didn’t think much about it.

Several months later I was approached by a 19 year old boy who was struggling with his identity and faith. As an open and assured Gay Christian, it was no surprise that he saw me as a resource. Unfortunately he started becoming a bit of a stalker and as I was unequipped to give him the help he needed I thought it would be best to bring him up to the Pastor. Again I asked if there was a group or resource for LGBT Christians. I was given the following [verbatim] answer:
“We don't have a group specifically for gays because we want everything we do to be inclusive to everyone.”
That is Lie # 1.

There are groups for different age brackets, for men, for women. Am I allowed to attend the women only events, or those for the 14-17 year olds? No, which means that not everything they do is inclusive. This is a lie I can forgive, but not accept as a reason not to have an LGBT group. Also, there is such a thing as allies, a "gay" group isn't just for gay individuals, it is for all to have open conversation about the issues pertaining to Gay Christians.

But because I referenced someone else, someone who was not as strong in his faith and identity, the conversation changed:
“We do have a pastor who meets with people in a similar situation to your mate. His name is X
Shall I give you his details or I can pass your mates details to him?”
So all this time, there has been a “resource” to LGBT Christians in the church, even though I had asked about it previously and was told no. That was Lie # 2.

I decided that I was going to meet with Pastor X (name omitted as I do not believe in public humiliation of individuals). There was NO WAY I was going to introduce him to the young man without first vetting his motivations.

We sat down for our first and only meeting. Here is a [paraphrased] summary of the statements he made while we talked over coffee:
“You don’t look gay.”
Oh I’m sorry, I didn’t realize I had to dress the part to fit your idea of what a gay person looks like.
“Someone is gay because of two reasons, either they have no relationship with their father or they were sexually abused.”
I know plenty of folks who have excellent relationships with their fathers and were never abused and are pretty gay. They are also some of the most confident, well versed, and successful people I know.
“This young man can’t call himself gay if he’s never had sex with another man. Being gay is having sex with another man.”
So a straight guy, or girl, who chooses not to have sex until marriage can not call themselves straight until their wedding night? Is that right? Or more personally, I am celibate and have been for years, am I straight now? Holy Jesus Have Mercy the prayers of women everywhere have been answered. Hallelujah! [sarcasm]

I didn’t let the conversation go any farther though I wanted to know what his course of action was with the young confused men that are sent his way. If he was making such bold statements to me, someone who is rooted in my faith and identity, how would someone who is scared and confused take it? How would they feel about themselves? About Christ?

This message is DAMAGING. It destroys, it does not build upon. Jesus would never have allowed this to happen in his presence. I left home at 17 and didn't look back because of teachings like this, and now at 30 my family are trying to win me back but it is too late, the damage has been done and where there once was fear there grew hate and only after years of forgiveness it has been followed by ambivalence. 

Yes, I just repurposed a Star Wars quote. Get over it.

Young minds that are shaped to fear who they are, or worst fear God, end up turning their backs on what they thought was a safe place. It is no wonder that we loose so many LGBT brethren who choose to leave the church, not counting those that are forced out of it.

Needless to say I did not introduce this Pastor to the poor young man who ended up without anyone to talk to and who disappeared into the void. I let him down because I did not open a safe passage for him, I was let down because I was not given a safe passage to offer.

The kicker however was the fact that this Pastor is a straight man. I do not understand what it was about him that gave him authority to speak on this subject, to shape the minds of young men, and speak on behalf of the Church.

Well over a year later, I discovered that another one of my friends from Hillsong also met with this Pastor because he too was having identity and faith issues. It hurt me that the message he received was one that does not promote finding one’s way with Christ, but instead of one fitting a mold of a straight man’s perception of what being Gay is and isn’t.

When Hillsong states that they do not speak out on Gays because Jesus didn’t either what they really mean is that they will not publicly speak about homosexuality, but will do so in private.

I will say this one last statement about Hillsong. It is a well intentioned Church that is in the middle of a global shift in Christian perspectives. It has made strides in the past to be a loving and nurturing environment though without a clean record. They used to have Gay Conversion Camps not long ago which they have concluded were a bad idea and have stopped, and have been slightly more vocal on the leadership not really knowing what to think about LGBT issues. Hey, I would rather you be honest of your own insecurities than to say one thing but do the other. But that is just it, do as you say, and enough with the secrecy.

Head Pastor of Hillsong Brian Houston has released an official statement on the Church's views on the matter as of Oct 19, 2014:

Statement from Brian Houston - Senior Pastor, Hillsong Church

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Because Jesus Didn't Speak About It, I Will Because Jesus Didn't Speak About It, I Will Reviewed by Christópher Abreu Rosario on 16:18 Rating: 5

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