My name is Mathew Andersen. I grew up in Wyoming and in the Lutheran Church Missouri Synod in the 60s and 70s. It was a pretty good place to grow up. Although politically conservative, Wyoming people have generally had a “live and let live” mentality. So, while I think most of my classmates suspected I was gay, I never had to endure much of the bullying or misery so many gay kids have suffered over the years. This gave me a lot space to step back and watch the political and religious rumpus over sexuality that has gripped our nation the last 4 decades or so. It also gave me the space I needed to figure myself out, to think about and decide how I would handle my sexuality and why. For a long time the LCMS was much like Wyoming. The Synod took a strong stand for sex to be used only in marriage between and a man and a woman but avoided, for the most part, becoming embroiled in the cultural bickering that was gripping the rest of the nation and making stands for and against homosexuality into the identifying mark of so many denominations and the article upon which many believed the Church would stand or fall.
That changed in 2009 and our Synod became one more among many who began to treat homosexuality and LGBT people as a cultural problem to be defeated rather than wounded sinners to be won. And it is for this reason I am developing this site and blog, to call the Synod I love so much back to a pastor approach which, while neglecting the Law, does not forget the Gospel as well. In this site and this blog I am attempting to focus primarily on the Gospel and ways to apply it to LGBT people.
Having said that, let me answer 2 questions about the subtitle of this blog:
Why do I call myself “gay”?
Yes, I realize that calling myself “gay” will upset some pastors. But there is no good terminology to use.
“Homosexual” has extremely negative baggage. It is akin to calling a person of African descent the “N” word. So it is not a good word to use.
Androphile, Gynophile and homophile are terms that have been experimented with over the years but have only caught on among the more extreme left and right elements of the political spectrum. So they are not particularly useful.
Same Sex Attracted is assumed by many pastors to be neutral but it is far from being so. Its use became popular among Exodus and other ex-gay groups as they attempted to separate themselves from the words “homosexual” and “gay.” But it brings with is all the baggage of the failed promises of conversion therapy – rather akin to the damage done by “faith healers” like Benny Hinn. So “Same Sex Attracted” is decidedly NOT neutral. Also the response to the use of “same sex attracted” outside of a decreasing group on the religious right is “huh – do you mean gay?”. So it is not only has negative baggage but it is kind of a failure to communicate.
So, although “gay” at one time meant someone who adopted a particular positive approach to their attraction to their own sex, today it is a more neutral term that identifies only the orientation of the person and not their personal beliefs nor decisions about that orientation. Of all the terms available, it is the most neutral one and the most easily understood term. So it is the one I tend to use
I also use “gay” to remind pastors that there are people, often teens, in their congregation who will be deeply impacted by what the pastors says about “gay” and LGBT people because they know no other way to identify themselves and they will take whatever the pastor says very personally, especially the condemnation of the law and the absence of Gospel.
Why do I NOT identify myself as celibate?
I did not immediately identify as celibate either in the subtitle of this blog or in the email I sent to pastors alerting them to this site. The reason is simple. At the moment there is kind of a catch 22 in the Synod. Celibacy, rather than the Gospel, has become the central doctrine of ministry to gay people. When writing about homosexuality and the culture, the attitude among pastors often is that they are calling people to repentance and that, until repentance happens, we can’t give Gospel. And so the Gospel is left out. So if you are not yet committed to celibacy, you don’t get the Gospel. However, it has been my experience that when I tell pastors that I am celibate the attitude tends to me that the Gospel has done its work – by the evidence that I am committed to not having sex – and that, therefore, I no longer really need the Gospel. So, either way, the Gospel is missing. Celibacy should not be the foundation upon which the Gospel is built or given. So, recently, I have avoided calling myself celibate until later in the conversation.