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“You’re probably not having a reputation for actually being Jesus.” Thor hopes that churches will continue to change and that the openness he experienced at Midtown will be extended to kids going through what his eighth-grade self suffered.
“I would want kids who grew up in the church to not first deal with this when they went away to college,” he says, “but in their middle-school and high-school youth groups, to be honest about this with people.
Coming out of the closet is the simplest tool of the gay movement, yet it’s proven to be the most powerful and even the most spiritually profound.
On the political side, Pew Research data this year found that knowing someone who is gay was the most common reason people switched to supporting gay marriage, and the percentage of people who know someone openly gay has risen over 25 points since 1993.
I’m thankful that I got to be at least the first voice that they got to process this with, that the church had a chance to do its version of the story before they only heard the other version.” ♦♦♦ Mary and Thor’s stories show the most obvious and public kinds of change, in which more gay Christians come out.
Coming out allows deeper bonds to be formed: not only romantic relationships but deeper friendships, more honest familial ties, and more pointed and relevant relationships with spiritual guides such as confessors or pastors.
As the gay movement has enjoyed remarkable success, a new kind of coming out is occurring, in which gay or same-sex attracted Christians openly discuss both our sexual orientation and our desire to live according to the historic teaching of the Christian church, which bars sexual activity outside marriage of one man and one woman.
When Thor began to realize that he was gay, in eighth grade, he remembers thinking, “‘Oh, I guess it is true that God hates me, that God is against me.’ I was really heartbroken.” As an adult, he found a small group at his church that took him in after a grueling period working overseas.
The leaders of the group provided a safe, encouraging place for him to explain what he was feeling and eventually invited him to talk to a group of college students.