This is another email to my friend about being gay and Christian and trying to reconcile the two ...
Thanks for your honesty and your reply. Sorry it's taken me a while.
I respect your view ... it was one I tried to live by for a long time, but it was self-destructive. I tried to do what your friend is currently doing ... it left me so deep in depression, because I couldn't change who I was and I believed therefore that who I was was an abhorration to God and that would never be able to change. It was a bit of a rough place to be believing that my salvation had been removed from me because I couldn't become someone that God would approve of, and yet I didn't want to live because life was desperately lonely. [As I mentioned in my other note, caught between the hell I was living with and the hell I thought I was inevitably going to.]
I suppose I should also add that the ex-Gay "ministries" that originated in the States have been discredited by medical boards and governments in the West as misleading, misguided and extremely harmful. Several of their spokespeople and directors have either left them or been caught soliciting sex in public places, because they craved companionship but couldn't pursue it openly, and were therefore reduced to the risky and emotionally harmful act of trying to secretly have anonymous sex with strangers, and then return to their 'wonderful and healed lives'. Consider the apology from some of the former leaders of such movements at http://www.beyondexgay.com/article/apology
Take a look at the story of Randolph Baxter on the website of Courage UK , who used to be part of an ex-Gay ministry and is now part of an ex-ex-Gay ministry. ;o) http://www.courage.org.uk/testimonies/Baxter.shtml Look at their 'Basis of faith'.
The ex-gay ministries still have their fans, and some of those are politicians, and some of the programmes are extremely powerful, but they are largely discredited in the West. Those programmes are now trying to market themselves to developing markets and Africa, in the hopes that they'll be able to develop their agenda there. So, in addition to being discredited and harmful, I often wonder if it's a power agenda, rather than a faith one, using a very credible-sounding faith façade for their own purposes.
I don't agree with a purely fundamental reading of Scripture, as it's a vibrant and adapting document that remains relevant to all cultures but cannot be enforced in it's original context without mercy because - after all - it communicates a loving and merciful God. But, I am prepared to say that - as much as I believe my reading of the verses to be correct, the fundamentalists believe theirs to be correct - and they're not trying to be hurtful, they're only trying to be true to what they believe is right. I often wish they would have the same respect for my views.
In my mind, rather than thinking of it as absolute in it's current English translation, I think it depends on the reading and the translation. There are a few verses (I think 6 in total) that speak against homosexuality, but the difficulty is in context and translation. The Greek and Hebrew words that were translated into 'homosexual' could mean several things, including 'promiscuous', 'people who use power to obtain sex' or even 'idol worship'. The difficulty in some of the cases is that the original word is used so rarely that it's difficult to find a confident translation. But someone settled on homosexual and since then, evangelical Christians the world over have used it to judge gays, lesbians, bi's and transgendered people, and even advocated hate crimes (and more recently, not speaking out against human rights violations, such as the Ugandan Government's new law which punishes gay men with the death penalty if discovered - or even if outed by someone else, that evidence is sufficient to sentence them to death, but the evangelical churches are silent on the issue).
Of course, in the past, evangelicals have also supported racism, slavery and misogyny ... all of which is now acknowledged to be hugely incorrect ... but homophobia is still popular in faith.
It's a very difficult and painful issue for a lot of people, and to be honest, influences a lot of evangelical Christians, and there is a lot of power play and a lot of money being poured into supporting Christians and churches that follow their lead in enforcing the judgement and/or expulsion of gays.
They will hide behind 'we love gays, we just don't love what they do', and say that gay people are ok, as long as they're celibate and lonely, but they're operating under the severely erred belief that gay and lesbian people are actually straight people CHOOSING to have sex with people of the same gender ... not recognising that it's about identity, about love, about personality ... not just genitalia.
Take a look at the http://www.wouldjesusdiscriminate.org/ page. And they offer a few alternative interpretations and insights on http://www.wouldjesusdiscriminate.org/biblical_evidence.html
Now, I recognise that some of the views they express may be difficult, as they're contrary to the views you've been taught so far, and go against what you believe, but if nothing else, look at them as an opportunity to discover that there are other ways of reading the scriptures out there, and each side believes their way to be correct, and tries their best to live it out in a way that honours their faith.
Hope you're well, and as awesome as you always were!