by John Ellis
When I wrote “Christians and Coming Out” a little over four years ago, I was writing for a music website and the main thrust of my writing was in a different direction than it is today. Writing and publishing it, though, had a greater impact on my writing (and life) than I realized it would at the time. It ended up being one of those things where I wrote words but without any real understanding of those words import until after the fact. That worked out in two main ways that ultimately converged.
Firstly, not long after writing “Christians and Coming Out,” I got a gig as a columnist for a bigger more prestigious music site. I was excited and it kicked off a season of increasing interaction with musicians, publicists, and others within the music industry. Free albums, free concert tickets, and even free beer became a regular part of my life. Going to local music festivals brought with it bands and musicians seeking me out to give me their CD in the hopes that I would review it. It was fun and I’m still reaping the benefits via my music library (and, for some odd reason, through the Toadie’s publicist who still sends me free beer and an autographed poster every few months).
However, in “Christians and Coming Out” I asked the unknowingly at the time prescience question, “Will the websites that I write for sever ties with me because they believe that their readership won’t stomach my beliefs, whether or not I insert those beliefs into my articles?”
Well, I found out the answer to that question.
About nine months after hiring me, my newly-married lesbian editor let me go because my values did not align with the website’s values. That’s despite the fact that in none of my columns had I ever even hinted at my views on sexuality, marriage, or, frankly, anything that could be construed as politically or religiously controversial. My blog, though, this blog was linked to on my author’s page.
After writing “Christians and Coming Out,” I stayed true to my word and began to become more and more vocal about controversial topics like sexuality, advocating for a Biblical sexual ethic as defined by God. Apparently, even though in my column I focused on promoting music based on the music, my beliefs as expressed elsewhere were too much for the site and its readers to handle. To be clear, that’s their right. I was not owed employment, and companies should have the right to hire who they believe will best serve the company’s mission.
Secondly, as I wrote in the previous paragraph, my posts on this blog began to change after I posted “Christians and Coming Out.” In the weeks following, I wrote and published “Christians and Judging,” “I Hate Authority,” “Gay Marriage and Slavery: How the Left Wins the Debate Without Actually Debating,” and “Caitlyn Jenner, Jon Stewart, and Society’s Game of Rhetorical Whack-a-Mole.” All four of those explicitly condemned, either at a specific point within the post or the post itself, some of the sexual revolution’s most revered idols. It was also not long after writing “Christians and Coming Out” that I began publicly taking on the vile practice of abortion. (note: My views on the appropriateness of Christians using profanity has changed quite a bit over the last four years. I have gone back and made some edits, but I have not scoured this entire blog. My apologies if any of the posts linked to above include a word that offends you.)
Over the spring and into the summer of 2015, as my writing shifted to increasingly include my conservative Christian voice, I began receiving emails and text messages from friends concerned about my drift into an “unloving legalism.” As I continued to state what I believed the Bible plainly teaches about sexuality, both publicly on this blog and in my private responses to those concerned, chiding, and, frankly, condescending friends, the messages quickly became vitriolic. One friend accused me of betraying him, which I found odd since that friend isn’t gay. Other friends flatly told me that they were finished with me. It’s been a couple of years since I last heard from those whose concern for my new direction turned to anger.
Ironically, considering the responses I received, I ended “Christians and Coming Out” with the plea:
I recognize that for some of my friends, this revelation may be shocking and hard to process. For those friends, please realize that I’m the same person that you liked and enjoyed hanging out with prior to my coming out. I’m still the same person, and our relationship doesn’t have to change.
Here’s the thing, you don’t have to understand who I am and you don’t have to agree with me. But you do not get to exclude me from the public square because you disagree with my beliefs. And you do not get to ask me to change my identity because it makes you uncomfortable.
What I’ve learned, and how one and two ultimately converged, is that it is an absolute truth that there is no such thing as a “cool” Christian. I am either pursuing holiness as God commands or I am pursuing the world’s approval. There is no middle ground. And that’s true of all Christ’s followers. Unexpectedly, that truth has revealed to me an aspect of my freedom in Christ that I was mostly unaware of four years ago. Being a disciple of Jesus means that the world will hate me. Jesus said that would happen. Being a Christian frees me from the slavery of chasing the world’s approval which means that I am free to pursue Christ in both word and deed.
Over the last four years, I have been privileged to reach far more people with my writing than I ever dreamed possible. And over those four years, I have written articles that I am proud of and that place me squarely outside our society’s acceptable public square. I have also written articles that I wish I could take back; not because I disagree with the articles’ assertions, but because the tone was less charitable or humble than it should’ve been. By God’s grace, I will continue to grow into a writer’s voice that better and better reflects the Son. And, by God’s grace, with my writing I will continue to be a voice calling myself and my readers to repentance and to a pursuit of holiness as defined by God and not by culture.
Soli Deo Gloria
(To read the original “Christians and Coming Out,” click the link below.)