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CA Evangelical Minister Mike Erre Says He’s “Sorry” To Gay Community

mike erreMike Erre, a rising star in Evangelical circles, is sorry his movement has been so nasty toward gay people.

Over the weekend Erre, senior pastor at Fullerton, California’s First Evangelical Free Church, posted “An Open Letter to the LGBTQ Community” on Facebook:

I am a pastor and a follower of Jesus. I know Louie Giglio only by reputation. I have a great deal of respect for him.  I have followed the news surrounding his invitation to pray at the President’s inaguration (sic) with some interest.

I want to begin by simply confessing the great deal of harm that we Christians have done to you in the name of Jesus. Our anger, hostility, and antagonism toward you have no place in the community that is supposed to represent Him. I am so sorry. Far too frequently we in the Christian community are rightly characterized as homophobic, mean-spirited, and narrow-minded.

I have several friends who are gay, and they have enlightened me to the heavy burden that many of you carry when you are rejected, mocked, and discarded by those in the church. Instead of offering helpful care, wisdom, and encouragement, we have often turned you away in disgust. We have done too much talking and not enough listening. I grieve this. And I know that Jesus does also. He had a very tender place in His ministry and priorities for those who were marginalized by the religious leadership of his day.

I regret that we have not been more faithful to His example. The church has lied to you in at least two ways. We have highlighted homosexuality over other issues in the Christian community. We have railed against homosexual marriage while turning a blind eye toward concerns like quick and easy divorce, premarital and extramarital heterosexual sex, greed, gossip, and anger. Our double standards have served only to highlight our own hypocrisy.

Some of us have also said to you that salvation or coming to Jesus means being automatically transformed into a heterosexual. I do think transformation is possible, but often we seem woefully naive of all the factors involved in this issue. As far as I can tell, one’s sexual orientation is not the determining factor in one’s eternal destiny. If my friendships are any indication, many yearn to follow Jesus fully and completely and yet continue to struggle to reconcile their faith with their desire for intimacy (sexual or otherwise) with someone of the same sex. We have failed to live out the good news of Jesus. Please forgive us.

I also believe that, at times, the homosexual community isn’t entirely truthful to you either. For one thing, the gospel of Jesus Christ announces that our desires are not our destinies. They can be overcome and placed in their proper context. Our wants don’t have to become our needs. Entrance into the kingdom of God through Jesus makes possible those things that, prior to Him, were thought to be impossible. We don’t have to live at the mercy of desire. Salvation isn’t found in self-gratification, nor is it found in unhealthy repression or denial. Jesus offers a third way.

One last thing. I disagree with those who think your sexual orientation is the most important thing about you. The most important thing about you is that, as a human being, you are made in the image of God. As an image bearer, you are a person who has intrinsic dignity, honor, and worth. You, like the rest of us, are also broken and bent toward what is worst for us. But the good news is that Jesus has come to make things right. He invites you into that redemption. Please don’t hold the sins of the church against Him.

I do sincerely ask your forgiveness. I grieve the harm we have done, and I recognize that if the church had done a better job listening, grieving, encouraging, telling the truth, and giving grace along the way, we would not be so polarized and alienated from each other today.

Since Erre posted the essay on Friday, he’s received more than 90 comments—mostly from fellow Fundamentalists.

One straight commenter wrote: “I have become increasingly aware of the double standard that exists within the church: Why is it any different than a straight couple living together out of marriage, or anyone who has an affair? Are these acts less sinful, or simply less ‘foreign,’ to our way of thinking? Sadly, this is the way the church portrays these situations.”

Another poster: “As a ‘gay’ person, and one who believes in Jesus, let me just say that its not all about sex. its about love. And if Jesus were to come back now, I think he would be more concerned with the starving children and the people suffering in war-torn countries than he would with gay marriage.”

And then there was this one: “I refuse to believe that God can’t or won’t change a person. Pure and simple.”

As our dear departed Grandma would say,”Bless your heart!”

What do you think? Do you appreciate Erre’s candor and conciliatory tone? Or is he a wolf in shepherd’s clothing? Weigh in below in the comments section!

h.t.: Good As You

By:           Dan Avery
On:           Jan 15, 2013
Tagged: , , , ,

  • 29 Comments
    • sfbeast
      sfbeast

      the next thing he should do is admit that he’s dropping his association with his silly fantasy made up religion because it’s all a bunch of bs in the first place

      Jan 15, 2013 at 8:15 am · @ReplyReply to this comment ·
    • speedbrds
      speedbrds

      My belief is that all these religions are basically cults. Cults and religions are one in the same. I say this as a newly converted agnostic.

      Jan 15, 2013 at 9:10 am · @ReplyReply to this comment ·
    • 1EqualityUSA
      1EqualityUSA

      He is equating our orientation to mere desire. This notion makes me and my entire psyche and spirit feel utterly discounted as, “less than.” This man clearly doesn’t know what being born this way entails. He still thinks that we can change. His religious views are very worldly and stuck in molecules, rather than spirit. I wonder how much money he made off of our backs.

      Jan 15, 2013 at 9:33 am · @ReplyReply to this comment ·
    • Tracy
      Tracy

      Too little, too late.

      Jan 15, 2013 at 10:22 am · @ReplyReply to this comment ·
    • Dustolio
      Dustolio

      As a gay man AND a Christian, I understand where he is coming from. Evangelicals are not all bad people, and this guy is trying to reach an understanding that he can be comfortable. I think this is a huge first step towards acceptance.

      When I first started going to my current church (a progressive Methodist church in the city) my pastor told me that he thought being gay was a sin, but that it was no more sinful than anything else that humanity is born into. After 6 years of being his friend and letting him see the struggles in my life and being there for his family, he preached a sermon in 2012 where he said that he no longer believes homosexuality is a sin, or a sinful lifestyle. In fact, he has started officiating at gay commitment ceremonies.

      I don’t take all the credit for his change in thinking, but if I had gotten pissed off at him and left the church while he was struggling with is convictions on this subject, who knows what might have happened.

      I’m also not saying that we as homosexual people need to blanket accept some of the stuff that Mike Erre is saying (ie. homosexuals can change or that they need to) but he is willing to open a dialog from a place where he is asking for our forgiveness and acceptance.

      How can we ask for anything less if we don’t accept it when it is offered?

      Jan 15, 2013 at 10:48 am · @ReplyReply to this comment ·
    • randalaw
      randalaw

      I, too, appreciate this man’s willingness to extend an olive branch. However, it’s abundantly clear that we who are gay Christians are still just not quite good enough for his church. So, thanks, but no thanks. I’ll stay where I am in my relationship with God through Christ. I’ll take God’s love that is offered without condition and serve God through a progressive church where I am accepted for who I am and what I bring to the table.

      Jan 15, 2013 at 11:26 am · @ReplyReply to this comment ·
    • Daniel-Reader
      Daniel-Reader

      Most important thing to remember is that “churches” that reject gay people or act sanctimonious and patronizing like this “church leader” were never Christians to begin with. Even Jesus said you could tell his actual followers by their actions. These types aren’t actual followers; they are just cloaked merchants making money off other people. Jesus warned against merchants ruining his teachings too. That’s why his greatest sermons were held in the outdoors directly to the people bypassing “church leaders” who then killed him for cutting off their paychecks and other offerings they used to live fat off the people.

      Jan 15, 2013 at 11:37 am · @ReplyReply to this comment ·
    • hephaestion
      hephaestion

      Is this guy saying he thinks we can “transform” into heteros? If so, fuck him. We can’t.

      Jan 15, 2013 at 12:17 pm · @ReplyReply to this comment ·
    • Wilberforce
      Wilberforce

      Yes, he’s a wolf in shepherd’s clothing, and this is not an apology. Expecting gay people to change into heteros is heartless and cruel. It’s no different than how they have always treated us.
      I don’t accept your ‘apology.’

      Jan 15, 2013 at 12:45 pm · @ReplyReply to this comment ·
    • GayTampaCowboy
      GayTampaCowboy

      Did I read that letter correctly? Did he REALLY say – in so many words – that you can “pray away the gay” by accepting Jesus? That being gay is about a “physical desire?” REALLY?

      How, after his opening paragraphs, can he then turn 180 degrees and basically says, you can’t get into heaven if you’re gay – talk about double-speak!

      WOW! how sad!

      Jan 15, 2013 at 1:43 pm · @ReplyReply to this comment ·
    • Nixter
      Nixter

      @GayTampaCowboy: @Wilberforce: @Wilberforce: Exactly. Thank you for writing exactly what I feel.

      Jan 15, 2013 at 1:52 pm · @ReplyReply to this comment ·
    • OneKnight
      OneKnight

      This guy is definitely looking for attention to line his pockets with more sheep’s money, while cloaking his apology in false Christian rhetoric.
      I’m tired of being judged by these nobody’s who think their antiquated beliefs somehow make them better then everyone else, while their biggest leaders continually become disgraced in high profile, sometimes illegal acts. They choose these religions as a way of justifying their own sinful actions, and then turn around and judge others claiming to be “lilly white.” I’m not buying it, or putting up with these types of people in my life anymore.
      We’re winning the fight anyway; his apology only proves they are scared and changing tactics.

      Jan 15, 2013 at 2:17 pm · @ReplyReply to this comment ·
    • MK Ultra
      MK Ultra

      You guys, this is just PR.
      Chromedome here is just as bigoted as anyone.
      But like the Mormon church, they’ve changed their PR strategy.
      Covered under all that ridiculous and perverse fluff is the same dangerous and patronizing message we always hear from scum like that.
      This man and his kind are more gross and offensive to me than the most openly hateful bigot.
      Hey Baldy, guess what? I believe transformation is possible too. You can change from a passive aggressive hate monger into a nice, moral atheist.

      Jan 15, 2013 at 3:39 pm · @ReplyReply to this comment ·
    • GreatGatsby2011
      GreatGatsby2011

      He had me in his corner until about the halfway point. As I was reading the first part I was uplifted by what appeared to be a heartfelt apology for all garbage that Christian fundamentalists lay at our feet. But, halfway through the bubble burst. While I appreciate the civil tone with which he expresses his opinion and while I appreciate the fact that he expresses his belief as his own beliefs and not “the word of the Almighty”, I don’t appreciate that it appears his belief is based on the assumption is that the feelings I have toward my husband are somehow fundamentally different from any feelings he may have for his significant other (if he has one). Somehow fundamentally lesser, fundamentally baser.
      I’ve tried to have romantic relationships with women when I was younger and, even leaving sex out of the equation, some indefinable but necessary component of the relationship (call it “the spark” if you like) was invariably missing. I cared about these young ladies but that caring, while pleasant, would never have evolved into romantic love. The very first relationship I had with another guy revealed to me that essential missing component, that spark. For the first time I experienced feelings that had simply been foreign concepts prior to that moment. I felt butterflies in my stomach on our first date, warm fuzzies when he looked at me and smiled, and my first real broken heart when he moved away.
      I guess my question to Mr. Erre (should I ever meet him) would be whether or not he believes homosexuals can even experience romantic love with each other. From his referring to my feelings as a “desire” I would guess he does not. But if he does believe that I can feel romantic love for a man and I am unable to feel those feelings for a woman, is it his belief that I should sacrifice romantic love (one of the most amazing and inspiring feelings I’ve ever experienced) for the rest of my life in order to do right by his God? That just seems… wrong. The kind of wrong I can feel deep in my bones.

      If this is indeed his belief then, while I appreciate his civility, I must politely decline his offer.

      Jan 15, 2013 at 5:09 pm · @ReplyReply to this comment ·
    • 1EqualityUSA
      1EqualityUSA

      He would rather us be liars. If anyone asks you to lie, especially about your most sacred self, walk away.

      Jan 15, 2013 at 6:15 pm · @ReplyReply to this comment ·
    • Merv
      Merv

      TL;DR version: Love the sinner, hate the sin.

      There’s nothing new here. He’s employing a well-worn psychological technique used by salesmen and con artists. First butter up the mark by trying to establish an emotional connection, and then move in for the kill. Fortunately, most of us have dealt with too many Christians to fall for this crap.

      Jan 15, 2013 at 7:01 pm · @ReplyReply to this comment ·
    • Jack E. Jett
      Jack E. Jett

      THIS is not a fucking apology…..
      —————————————–

      I also believe that, at times, the homosexual community isn’t entirely truthful to you either. For one thing, the gospel of Jesus Christ announces that our desires are not our destinies.
      ………
      This is nothing more than an updated version of that tired ….love the sinner hate the sin shit.

      Kind of shocked Queerty would fall for it.

      Jan 15, 2013 at 7:56 pm · @ReplyReply to this comment ·
    • Steve Rider
      Steve Rider

      It’s great that he wants to be more polite when telling people his Invisible Sky Monster will torture them for being gay.

      Was I out of the room when we established that his Sky Monster exists in the first place?

      Jan 15, 2013 at 8:40 pm · @ReplyReply to this comment ·
    • jamal49
      jamal49

      Almost. But, not quite. The good reverend still misses two key points.

      True, my “sexuality” is but one small part of my existence. But, since he recognizes that I am a human being, fully capable of tender, intimate love towards another human being (particularly of my own gender), then he needs to understand that part of the expression of that love towards someone of my own gender encompasses my sexuality.

      Desire (lust) is one thing. Tender, emotional love, expressed sexually is another.

      Everything is integral to my HUMANITY, which, if the pastor would take the time to understand is what my being “gay” is all about.

      Also, the good reverend has to answer the following question honestly: in the totality of Jesus ministry on Earth and in the totality of his teachings and sermons, exactly what did Jesus have to say about same-sex love or, even, same-sex sexuality? If the pastor is honest, then the answer must be: NOTHING.

      Since the standard evangelical Christian does not follow the Bible exactly in all of its prohibitions and admoninitions, then the evangelical Christian must begin to let go–as painful as it might be–of the five or six verses that allegedly “condemn” same-sex love (or, lust).

      Once the evangelical Christian does this, then the acceptance of same-sex relationships–for all their humanity, flaws, and beauty can be done easily.

      I give the good reverend an “E” for effort. But, he still has a very long way to go.

      Jan 16, 2013 at 12:05 am · @ReplyReply to this comment ·
    • FunMe
      FunMe

      That guy is NOT a Christian. He’s simply another charlatan wanting people to think he is apologizing when he is not.

      “Some of us have also said to you that salvation or coming to Jesus means being automatically transformed into a heterosexual. I do think transformation is possible”

      Really? He think gays can “change”. How about HE change from straight to gay for a whole year to prove it’s possible. Then when he shows us that, then we will “change”. But guess what? He won’t be able to do that because that’s not how he was born just like we weren’t born straight.

      What a ding bag! Apology not accepted! And f*** him!

      Jan 16, 2013 at 6:37 am · @ReplyReply to this comment ·
    • Nikkidane
      Nikkidane

      I do feel that if the LGBT Community ever wants social acceptance and equal rights that they will have to make peace with the Faith Community. I appreciate the pastor’s comments. That’s a huge first step to open a dialogue. As long as churches continue to insist that we are an abomination and threat the family, we will never get anywhere. I hope that the Pope and many of the other Evangelical ministers read his letter.
      If Mike Err means by transformation that an LGBT person can transform from living a hedonistic and materialistic life that is completely self centered to a life that is more spiritual and less self focused then I agree with him. If he means that one can or should try to change their sexual orientation or gender identity to be a good Christian, then I think his is confused. I think he needs to clarify that statement.

      Jan 16, 2013 at 11:23 am · @ReplyReply to this comment ·
    • Dominickj
      Dominickj

      Minister Mike writes: “For one thing, the gospel of Jesus Christ announces that our desires are not our destinies.”

      I’m sure Jesus wasn’t speaking about ones desire to be with the person one loves and the “desire” to marry that person. That is not a desire BUT a way of life, Just like it is with heterosexuals.

      Jan 16, 2013 at 1:41 pm · @ReplyReply to this comment ·
    • Dominickj
      Dominickj

      @Jack E. Jett:

      Hi Jeff. I kinda agree and Not. He’s made an apology BUT like you pointed out about the scripture he quotes, as usual, it’s taken out of context.

      Jan 16, 2013 at 1:45 pm · @ReplyReply to this comment ·
    • Dominickj
      Dominickj

      For the person who wrote this: “I refuse to believe that God can’t or won’t change a person. Pure and simple.”

      You’re right It’s not that HE can’t, it’s HE won’t. We were designed to be exactly who we are and there’s NOTHING to change.

      Jan 16, 2013 at 1:49 pm · @ReplyReply to this comment ·
    • nature boy
      nature boy

      @greatgatsby2011 … RIGHT ON! I had sex with women but i finally accepted I was gay when I fell in LOVE with a man. I usually tell people it’s about love, not sex… men can have sex with apple pies and watermelons too… it’s who you fall in LOVE with that defines you.

      And believe it or not, there are some great Christian churches out there for LGBT people, that can really enrich your life…even if you are educated, intelligent, thoughtful, AND skeptical…. they’re just so darned hard to find! For starters, try the United Church of Christ, who first ordained an openly gay man as a pastor back in the 1970’s… particularly look for one of the ONA or “Open and Affirming” congregations which you can find listed here http://www.ucccoalition.org/programs/ona/who/list/

      Jesus would have welcomed the LGBT community to his church.

      Jan 16, 2013 at 3:36 pm · @ReplyReply to this comment ·
    • nature boy
      nature boy

      @DominickJ… right on… we are as God made us… this is not a “choice.” (skeptics insert word choice of “life” “universe” or “force” for the word “God.”)
      @Dustolio… thanks for sharing your story… I too have chosen to stay “out” and honest in seemingly homophobic churches where it seemed I was somehow destined or brought to play a role for justice… and guess what… justice won. It seems unbelievable but many straight people (particularly older generation) still do not personally know any openly honestly gay people… it’s tiring to be that first person they encounter… but it does make a difference.

      Erre has made progress with the first part of his apology… unfortunately the rest shows he still has a long way further to “evolve” !

      Jan 16, 2013 at 4:03 pm · @ReplyReply to this comment ·
    • erikwm
      erikwm

      Apology not accepted. You’ve still got it wrong.

      Try again, Mr. Erre.

      Jan 17, 2013 at 1:44 am · @ReplyReply to this comment ·
    • fhjern
      fhjern

      I’m sorry but apology not accepted. Yes, I know he is sincerely pained by how we have been treated by evangelicals, but he quietly slipped in that he does “think transformation is possible”. And by that he means, we can be transformed into heterosexuals, as if it were a given that we would want to be. He goes on to say, “Salvation isn’t found in self-gratification, nor is it found in unhealthy repression or denial. Jesus offers a third way.” In other words, the “third way” means neither sexual expression nor repression because we can be “transformed” into heterosexuals who are free to have sexual expression and thus not be repressed. As long as there is the assumption that being homosexual is an inherently undesirable state and that the true salvation involves being made straight, there can be no apology. That itself IS the offense. Until he truly repents and is happy that we can have happy lives, which includes our natural sexual expression and marriage to the one we love if we so desire, his apology, no matter how bad he feels about how we are treated, falls completely flat and does not address the real offense.

      Jan 17, 2013 at 12:30 pm · @ReplyReply to this comment ·
    • Jen
      Jen

      Here are my two cents:

      All agendas aside, it takes courage to stand up and say, “I am sorry” and admit fault. Here is one person who has no obligation to address any community but he did; and simultaneously, risked being berated by his own community. It is not easy to stand up and admit that your community has done wrong and then go back to that same community who might not welcome you home with open arms for what you have done. This is an act of bravery. Mike Erre has earned my respect for standing up when no one else cared to; nonetheless, this issue is beyond him.

      Is it possible that both communities are guilty of the same thing? The issue at hand is not who is wrong and who is right, the issue is that we are all guilty of ridiculing and or attacking the beliefs and/or lifestyles of others. Can we move past the notion that some of us are better than others? There are bigger concerns, and bigger matters that need our attention, who marries who, or what god people pray to is a distraction from the real issues.

      I understand that same sex marriage has been made an issue bigger than this message board. I do believe that it is shameful, that our leaders think that they are relevant in deciding who marries who. I do not remember voting on whether Mr. Obama could marry the first lady. As such, no one else should have a say on who marries who. Again, these are issues beyond our control for the time being. We can only hope that our nation, and the world for that matter, comes to its senses.

      Why is it so hard to get over ourselves and come together to extend our help to the people who need it? What about the people on the streets who will not have a meal tonight? What about the children (our future) who are being mistreated and abused here in America? Why is it so hard to stay out of each other’s bedrooms or churches? This world would be a better place if we each concerned ourselves with our lives, and not with what our neighbors are up to.

      No one can offend you or disrespect your way of life without your permission. Do not give others permission to offend you. At the risk of sounding like a hippie, I encourage everyone to be the bigger, braver person and forgive others for their judgments and prejudices. There is enough wrong in our world, let’s be rebellious and add some good.

      Jun 12, 2013 at 2:29 pm · @ReplyReply to this comment ·

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