Conservative Christians Want Gay Pastors to Come Out. I Say Amen to That

The LA Times has a whopper of an article today about the fallout from the recent gay sex scandals involving conservative Christian leaders like Ted Haggard and Paul Barnes.

According to the Times, Christian conservatives have devised a solution to this wave of embarrassing revelations. Pastors with gay tendencies, they say, should keep bashing gays, but they should get more confessional about their own homosexual urges.

The article quotes Christian leaders as saying that "the best way to help pastors fight temptation is to get them talking - even about their own shameful secrets."

In other words, Christian leaders think they can combat homosexuality among their peers by urging those peers to do what the gay movement has urged all closeted people to do since Stonewall: Come out of the closet.

It's an interesting idea, and as someone who came out decades ago, I fully support it. Not, however, because it will succeed in combating homosexuality. But rather because it will do the opposite.

The biggest weapon in the historical arsenal against gay dignity has always been shame.

The desire to avoid the shame that our culture heaps on people with a homosexual orientation is what causes them to often resort to the secrecy, the hiding and the destructive double lives that characterize the Closet.

Coming out, in the form of admitting homosexual desire, whether you have ever acted on that desire or not, is immensely liberating.

The vast majority of people who come out are transformed. They no longer harbor a desire to repress their love because they have faced the enemy - shame - and have survived.

So by all means, all you closeted pastors and reverends, priests, rabbis and imams - come on out!

Stand before your congregations and explain to them how you never 'chose' your innate sexual orientation.

Explain how it has always been as much a part of you as your soul.

Explain how your religion taught you to despise yourselves for it, how you internalized that loathing, how you prayed and struggled against it, perhaps even remained celibate, perhaps even entered into a fraudulent marriage to escape it, but never changed it one whit.

But allow me to suggest one thing.

The morning after you do, you just may see the world in a new way. You will have faced the enemy - shame - and you'll still be standing. You just may awake to something beautiful and strong and true in yourselves. Something you didn't know was there. In the gay movement we call it pride. The opposite of shame.

And you might find that the next time you hear someone in your church bashing gays, you just might stand up and say: Wait a minute.

Of course, that would hardly accomplish the goals of the anti-gay conservatives who are proposing this new strategy. But hey, the Lord moves in mysterious ways.