On May 6, 2013

Loves God, Likes Girls

“Vulerability is the first thing I look for in others and the last thing I want others to see in me.” -Brene Brown

978 0 89112 359 0
I hadn’t planned on staying up until the middle of the night to finish Sally Gary’s new book “Loves God, Likes Girls” I had planned on reading just enough to encourage her and tell her how much I appreciated her. But that was before I started reading.

It’s been estimated that 85% of American young adults see Church and Christians an Homophobic and against Homosexual people. But that is not anywhere near the Christian story.

I’m not even talking about how such a disproportional amount of church conversation is on homosexuality (in comparison to the very small amount of times it is mentioned in Scripture). I’m talking about the fact that Christians are not seen as being opposed to homosexuality, or any kind of sexual immorality…we are largely seen as opposed to gay people.

And to be honest that’s kind of our own fault.

But the Christian story, if it trying to say anything, is saying that gay people…or any kind of person, is not the enemy. The enemy is the spiritual principalities and powers and sin in all the forms that it takes. And when we don’t get that we can really, really hurt people.

That’s why I stayed up all night reading Sally’s book.

The Best Stories Have But’s

It’s incredibly hard to put yourself in someone else’s shoes. Because most of the time it’s so hard to get out of our own. But Sally’s disarming way of telling her own story makes you realize how much all of our stories have in common.

They say the best stories don’t use and as much as the word but, I think that’s right. The Godfather was evil but he did it for family. Steve Jobs changed the world but he was often a jerk. The best and the worst of us, are filled with the best and the worst. And Sally’s story is filled with but’s.

Her dad would go into fits of emotionally abusive rage but he also learned sign language to communicate to the deaf kid at church. Her mother was incredibly nurturing but often overprotective. Sally dated and liked some boys but….

Sally is incredibly honest and truthful about how great and hard life with her parents and church have been for her. She’s honest about her shortcomings and painfully honest about what life was like for a girl growing up sexually confused in a time when those kind of things weren’t spoken about.

But this book isn’t just about homosexuality and church, as the Father of two little girls I was convicted over and over again. She let me see how important being a daddy was for any little girl, and how important it was to be an intentional communicator to your kids.

She’s also honest about all her phobias and the quirky way she saw the world and learned how to cope with it (she’s actually afraid of the water) but as I read her book the same thought kept coming back to me…

For someone who talks about being afraid so much, she sure is brave.

Because Sally, for the past 15 years, has been willing to do what almost nobody else in the world will do. She’s being willing to be vulnerable to the entire world for the sake of the people who are out there like her.

Church and Gay People

That’s why she wrote the book, and it’s why she runs the ministry CenterPeace. Because she wants churches to know that there are people in our churches who are struggling with sexual orientation. They are our friends and our family and they’ve worked so hard to keep it secret because we’ve told them how we feel about their struggle…we just didn’t know we were talking about them.

Sally has been invited to speak to churches from all over the spectrum of Churches of Christ (and beyond). She’s spoken at our most conservative and our more progressive schools and churches because we’re waking up to the realization that this matters. And Sally’s gentle but brutally honest story helps you hear her wisdom:

Sexuality is complex and we haven’t fully explored all the possible variable that enter into this equation. Biology sets a foundation, but the impact of what we experience throughout life continues to shape and re-shape us. The dynamic interplay between chemistry, neurology and our perception of life experiences over the course of a lifetime remains to be investigated. Mix in individual temperaments, largely a biological construct, and you quickly realize there are no cut and dried explanations as to how sexuality takes shape in us. All we really know, is that we have much to learn. And at the very least, our lack of understanding should move us to greater compassion.

And that’s why everyone needs to read this book. Because Sally doesn’t try to make anyone feel guilty, she just lets you see through her eyes for a few hours. And what you see will change the way you love the people around you.

I’m proud to say that Sally is a member and leader at the Church that I work at, but I’m even more proud to say that she’s a part of our Restoration Vision. Centerpeace is one of the 3 non-profits that our campaign last year went to support…and after reading her book I’m incredibly grateful that we can play a very small role in what she’s doing in the world.

Sally’s dream is to help churches learn how to be a safe place for people to be honest. And she did that by going first.

So thanks Sally. You love God, and you’ve taught us how much he loves everyone.

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  • Paul wheeler

    I think I can see the point here: all people struggle with sin, of which homosexuality is one of many. I think one of the reasons it’s so easy to pick on homosexuals is that that particular sin is easy to single out; not many gays in the congregation so it’s easy to say “evil gays!” and not be offensive. It’s important to realize that it is a sin like any other, and that a man who lies on his resume is just as guilty as the man who hooks up with dudes at a gay bar. As Christians, we cannot be everyone’s judge. Having said that, to be permissive or dismissive of sin for the sake of being “non-judgemental” is equally wrong, of which Paul gives us an example in the first letter to the Corinthians. It is always important to remember that this is God’s church, meant to be a pure and blameless gift of love to Christ, not necessarily the other way around. His grace covers a multitude of sins, but we must always strive to be blameless in His eyes.

    Ok that’s my shpeal

  • Mike

    I need to read the book, because I still don’t know where to stand on this issue. The one verse that bothers me: 1 Corinthians 7: “8 Now to the unmarried and the widows I say: It is good for them to stay unmarried, as I do. 9 But if they cannot control themselves, they should marry, for it is better to marry than to burn with passion.”

    So if a heterosexual has a problem controlling himself, he can marry, but if a homosexual has the same problem, there’s no out? I just have a hard time believing that God would do that. Shouldn’t they be allowed to marry also?

  • Preston Cox

    Thanks Jonathan! Heard about this book last week and am so looking forward to reading it. Appreciate you solidifying that for me.

  • http://twitter.com/graceforgayle gayle talabay

    I am SO glad I came across this on Facebook today, Jonathan. Thank you for recommending this book, and for talking about this issue in such a loving way. I am very, VERY tired of every issue being turned into an argument (abortion, war, homosexuality, etc. etc. etc.). Can we please stop bickering and pointing fingers about everything all of the time? (I mean that in general, not toward you or anyone specific!)

    I am going to Amazon.com now to look for this book. Thank God for Sally and her courage to speak up, I am sure she has been blessed through this, but I am just as sure it has not been easy.

  • Curious

    Jonathan,

    Without giving too much of the book away, could you clarify if it tries to redefine what the Bible says about homosexuality or if it agrees with scripture and addresses how Christians should love people dealing with it? I would agree that a lot of Christians have not handled the issue well and have a tendency to elevate it above other sins. Unfortunately, it seems like many are now over-correcting in the other direction by explaining away sex with the same gender as not being a sin at all.

    I don’t know much about the author or the organization. What I have seen is vague enough that I’m not sure where they stand on the scriptural view of homosexual sex. Thanks in advance.

  • Phil Dosa

    After having read the book, Sally doesn’t spend much time discussing the hotly debated issues but rather tells her story. It’s a memoir. If you want to understand the people affect by the issues, this is your book.

  • Curious

    Thanks for the insight, Phil.

  • http://stormented.com Jonathan Storment

    Thanks Gayle! I think you’ll love this book too. Hope you are doing well!

  • http://stormented.com Jonathan Storment

    Thanks Preston!

  • http://stormented.com Jonathan Storment

    Mike, I think you’ll appreciate the book and the struggle that Sally is very honest with. Life isn’t fair, and there’s plenty of complex issues that are involved here…Sally doesn’t give a lot of answers, but I found that just hearing her story helped me ask better questions.

  • http://stormented.com Jonathan Storment

    Hey Paul, thanks for weighing in. If Sally’s book does anything for our churches, it might be to help us differentiate between orientation and behavior. I don’t think we’ve been able to do that, so we’ve (at least subtly) treated homosexual people like they were lepers.

    I think you’d like her book, I don’t want to give anything away, but she’s not advocating 1 Corinthians 5 kind of stuff. Thanks for the response!

  • http://stormented.com Jonathan Storment

    Thanks for asking Curious, and thank you Phil for the answer. That’s exactly right!