By Crystal D. Cheatham
Crystal Cheatham is a 2009 graduate from Andrews University. You might recognize her from the stage of Pioneer Memorial Church where she has provided vocal praise as both a song leader and a choir member. As evidence of her deep roots in Adventist culture and leadership, her uncle Charles Cheatham resides as the President of the Allegheny East Conference. She is currently pursuing her MFA in Creative Writing at Antioch University LA. As a lesbian and an Adventist, Crystal is primarily interested in the LGBTQ struggle. She is currently working in Philadelphia to develop a Gender Kit that will provide lesbian, gay, and questioning youth the information they need to identify and feel secure within the sensitive stages of puberty and coming out in an anti-gay, Christian society. With her work she hopes to bridge the gap in sexual knowledge and faith principles between the queer and Christian worlds.
Ex-Gay No Way Affects Religion Today
If you go to any Christian book store, peruse through the Bibles, the Christian dating section, the worship readings of Max Lucado and the self help titles of John Eldredge and the Purpose Driven Life, you will find everything you need to literarily confirm your walk with Christ. But for those looking to find books that better explain the growing debate on homosexuality and Christianity, the information is simply unavailable.
The debate was easy to ignore when it wasn’t on our doorsteps but with the final ban on the army’s Don’t Ask Don’t Tell policy, our eyes are turned to the teetering Prop 8 and marriage equality. We can’t help but ask ourselves where our religious group stands on homosexuality and Christianity. And while silent on the book shelves, homosexuality is a hot topic with conservatives and liberals for and against the LGBTQ group. The waters are so rough that the term ‘gay Christian’ seems an oxymoron as it combines the seemingly biblically rejected and the biblically uplifted into one anomaly of a person.
Jallen Rix Ed.D. is one such anomaly. Given the recent fall of James Dobson’s Ex-Gay dynasty, Rix has published a tell-all book (Ex-Gay No Way) explaining his many encounters with ministries like it, their failure to extract his queer self from his Christian self, and the life changing acceptance he discovered when allowing himself to embrace both his sexuality and spirituality.
Rix does not set out to convince people that being a gay Christian is as normal as being a straight Christian, rather he urges readers to look at the evidence of how unlikely it is that a gay person might be trained into becoming straight. Furthermore he urges readers to see how spiritual his journey to self discovery has been, and how he now experiences a greater connection to God living at his authentic best. In this way he has used his spirituality to embrace his sexuality, rather than to combat falsified projections of his otherwise normal orientation. Backed with evidence from The American Psychological Association (APA)—that denounced the ex-gay ministry program—new interpretations on those “clobbering texts” so often used to embarrass and harass practicing homosexuals, and proof gathered by his own academic study, Rix presents evidence that homosexuality is not a moral issue. Neither is it separate from ones spirituality. Through Rix’ experience we are able to gather a foundational understanding of what it means to be gay and Christian.
We as Seventh-day Adventists pride ourselves on education and the power of the written word. Being fundamentalist Christians we take doctrine to be most important when sorting right from wrong, and even in supporting the way that we conduct our every day lives.
As world wide Bible activists we have offered our resources to countries across the globe in order to educate millions on the life completeness one can attain daily by adhering to a biblically based lifestyle. Our efforts have been well received, yet on the home front we are still seeking to justify where we stand on homosexuality. Why are we not the forefront leader in discovering how important the homosexual member is to our churches?
In lack of our support our homosexual brothers and sisters are harassed and even murdered across seas. This happens in countries where we have made a lasting presence in converting natives and changing lives. Without our encouragement to stay chaste until marriage HIV and other STIs will always be on the rise in the LGBTQ community. Even more dire is the pressing truth that young adults are committing suicide rather then facing a world where they are openly rejected. The group desperately needs our support. Why are we failing them?
The war on gay rights always leads back to fundamentalist Christianity and our constant failure to provide a positive presence in the debate. LGBTQ bookstores around America carry books and other information that have been proven to relieve gay Christians of the inner dichotomy that spirituality and sexuality seem to impose. When it comes to stocking shelves why are we neglecting to receive information about one of our histories most pressing issues? The world is discussing the matter, we should be too. Rix is only one voice amongst a library of books that address the topics of homosexuality, gender identity, and the Bible. We should read them. We as a fundamentalist community should have an opinion too.