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Why is there so much hatred towards homosexuals?

I was watching Larry King Live tonight and saw you interviewed. My impression of you is that you have a more level headed way of thinking, and my hope is that you will take some time to answer this question.

I grew up in Texas as a Southern Baptist. At one point in my life my ambition was to be a pastor. I am a gay male, and I fought my sexuality for years. I prayed daily, most times in tears, begging for god to lift my homosexuality. It never happened. I was torn to pieces and on 3 separate occasions considered suicide, that of course being now relief, because I was taught by the church that you go straight to hell for suicide. I was damned no matter what I did.

Because my prayers were never answered I assumed god abandoned me. And for no other possible reason but because of my sexuality. I felt doomed for most of my life. And the church ripped away the one thing I cherished most in my life, and that was my love of God.

Today Iím a [middle-aged] man, and have come to terms with my sexuality and my relationship with god, and I realize that god does not hate me, and never abandoned me. But because of the churches out right hatred of homosexuality I was condemned to a living hell for most of my life.

Please explain to my why there is so much hatred towards homosexuals.

Also I hear over and over how it is us who are trying to force our views on you, and the rest of the world. But that simply is not true, it is the church that is forcing itís view on us. We are not asking you to be gay, or change your life in any way, we just want you to leave us in peace and let us live our lives. And if you are right and we are going to hell, fine, let that happen. Please stop making our current life a living hell. Please leave that up to God to decide for our eternal souls.

I am sure you are a busy man, and I can only image how many emails you get. I am begging you please respond. This question has eaten me alive. I canít tell you all the pain it causes me to hear people fighting for a constitutional amendment to ban who I am, people saying that my relationships are irrelevant. The pain is beyond my ability to explain.

Answer: Thank you, thank you, for your painfully yet beautifully honest inquiry. I hope that what you have written will be read by thousands of people here, and that it will help them see how horrible the current situation is for homosexual people Ė who are, as you say, so loved by God and so mistreated by too many churches. It breaks my heart, and I donít know what to say.

You asked why they are so hateful. I wish I knew, and I wish we could fix the problem. Here are a couple brief hunches.
1. Some are simply trying to be faithful to God and the Bible, and they believe they must speak out on the issue in the way they do out of faithfulness.
2. Some use this issue as a tool of political division. They want to split churches and denominations so they can drive some people out and have other people more to their liking in power. In other words, I believe that for many people, itís not about homosexuality at all, or even about pleasing God, but itís about a conscious or subconscious desire for power.
3. Some people feel they have been mistreated by ďliberalsĒ and they are responding out of their pain Ė not a good thing, but it happens.
4. Some people have deep guilt and pain which they havenít processed, and this becomes an unconscious motivation, erupting in meanness of spirit and a lack of compassion.

I have a draft of something Iíve written on the subject, and perhaps some day the time will be right to make it publicly available. In the meantime, please know that thousands of people will read this email, grieve with you and pray for you, and do what they can to change the nasty tone so common in too many churches.

On the encouraging side, just today I was with a young man who is very conservative in his understanding of homosexuality. He believes homosexual acts (not orientation) are always a sin. Yet he told me how committed he is to treating homosexual people with love and respect, gentleness and kindness, love and compassion. You may wish his views would change Ė but at least his heart is not hateful and aggressive, and we can all thank God for people like him who will set a better example for their fellow Christians who see things as they do.