Editor’s note: In a particularly shocking story, an Indiana church has been shown on YouTube celebrating a young child singing a homophobic song. In our opinion, this is an abusive and terribly destructive thing to do to a young child, as one friend put it in a Facebook conversation “using small children as ventriloquists’ dolls for the hatred of the preacher.” We have embedded the YouTube video below. Whatever happened to teaching children about the love of Jesus in songs like “Jesus loves me?” I e-mailed the following letter to Pastor Jeff Sangl of Apostolic Truth Tabernacle last evening at the e-mail address found on his church’s web-site. The church’s spokesperson claims that Pastor Sangl received death threats in response to the video and has gone into hiding. We at lgbt-BJU.org unequivocally denounce any call to violence, but we ask, humbly and sincerely, for a change in the rhetoric of homophobia being preached from the pulpit of America’s churches today. Will you join me in politely and respectfully asking for this change? – Jeffrey Hoffman
Dear Pastor Sangl,
I was astonished to see a video reportedly from your church on YouTube yesterday, where a very young boy was filmed singing “Ain’t No Homos Gonna Make It to Heaven.” To be perfectly honest, even the title of that song represents a theological untruth. I refer you to II Peter 3:9 and I John 4:7 as support for my very unequivocal statement that you are promoting a terrible heresy if you are teaching young children to sing this sort of hate-filled message in your church. The God who created you in his image likewise created me and every one of our fellow human beings. Galatians 3:28 and Colossians 3:11, I Corinthians 12:13 and Ephesians 4 all clearly indicate that the Christian message is one of inclusion, not exclusion. Jesus died for all of us and we have all sinned. Yet He came to restore us all to His Father.
More to the point, though, is the disturbing thought that if this child happens to be homosexual or bisexual, transgender or intersex — facts about himself that he won’t begin to discover until he is a little older, though probably while he is still a young child or an adolescent — he will have been harmed, perhaps irreparably so, by the message of this song which reinforces hatred of others and hatred of self, if one just happens to be LGBT+.
If you are under the mistaken assumption that to be homosexual is to be defined by participation in a particular sexual act you may find offensive, I urge you to reconsider your opinion. To be homosexual is to be sexually and emotionally drawn to members of the same sex in ways that heterosexual people are drawn to members of the opposite sex. It is as natural for a homosexual person to be attracted to a person of the same sex as it is for a heterosexual person to be drawn to members of the opposite sex. I am gay because I am attracted to men. I am not a sex act. My sexuality is not defined by my choices about how to express it. It simply is. I know celibate homosexuals. I know promiscuous homosexuals. And I know monogamous homosexuals. I could replace that word “homosexuals” with the word “heterosexuals” in those previous three sentences and be telling an equal truth in each.
While theologians and linguists have an ongoing disagreement over the six verses in scripture (there are some 31,000 verses in the Bible) that have been historically used to condemn lesbians, homosexuals, and other sexual minorities, it would be prudent for all Christians to spend more time talking about the new commandment of Jesus that we “love one another as I have loved you. By this shall all men know that you are my disciples, if you have love for one another.” (John 13: 34-35)
I represent a group of former students, graduates, faculty and staff of Bob Jones University. We have been sharing our stories online at www.lgbt-bju.org since January of this year. There are many more stories left to be told from within our community, as more and more people are finding the courage to speak their own truth. One of the recurring themes throughout most of our stories is the fact that most of us gradually became aware of our sexuality as children or pre-teens. This is a finding that is so common among gay, lesbian and bisexual people as to merit mention by the American Psychological Association in its information on human sexuality (http://www.apa.org/topics/sexuality/index.aspx).
I urge you to take some time to read our blog and those resources that we have linked to (www.lgbt-bju.org). I urge you to spend some time educating yourself and your congregation on the psychology of human sexuality. I urge you to read up on the biological phenomenon known as Intersex, whereby a person is born with characteristics of both genders. Are you aware that doctors estimate 1 in 1500 births to be intersex? That means that in 2009, nearly 3,000 children were born in the United States with some form of Intersex. To better put that into perspective, the birthrate for children born congenitally deaf is approximately 4,000 births per year. 6,000 people are born with Down Syndrome every year. Is God really so cruel as to single out 3,000 children a year to be hated and reviled by those who claim to follow him because they are different from other children? Is God so cruel as to have created me “fearfully and wonderfully” and yet give me a sexual attraction that I began to discover at only eight years of age and to bring me up in an environment where I was taught to loathe myself because my sexual attraction was forbidden and reviled? As a believing Christian, I think not. Rather, I believe God knew exactly what He was doing when He made me. He loves me with the unconditional love of a divine parent who cares for all of His children.
Please apologize and change your treatment of those hidden LGBTQI people who live in your faith community, especially the children. Please affirm them in Christ’s love.
provisional Executive Director