Rachel Gilson: Born Again This Way

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This is a podcast episode titled, Rachel Gilson: Born Again This Way. The summary for this episode is: <p>What is it like to be a Christian who experiences same-sex attraction? Find out this week on Truth Over Tribe when <a href="https://twitter.com/patrickkmiller_" rel="noopener noreferrer" target="_blank">Patrick</a> sits down to talk with Rachel Gilson. Author of "Born This Way: Coming Out, Coming to Faith, and What Comes Next," Rachel gets personal with us about how she first realized she was sexually attracted to other women, how she became a Christian, and how she has struggled to reconcile those two realities. As we learn more about her, the conversation then opens up to gay identities and relationships in the Bible and the many layers of gender and sexuality. Tune in now!</p><p><br></p><p><strong>Ok, truth time... Did you like this episode?</strong> Tell us by leaving a rating or review! 🌟🌟🌟🌟🌟 If you did, you won't want to miss what's next (so subscribe now!). And help a friend by sharing this with them. Thank you! πŸ™</p><p><br></p><p><strong>Plus, the conversation is just beginning! </strong>Follow us on <a href="https://twitter.com/truthovertribe_" rel="noopener noreferrer" target="_blank">Twitter</a>, <a href="https://www.facebook.com/ChooseTruthOverTribe" rel="noopener noreferrer" target="_blank">Facebook</a>, and <a href="https://www.instagram.com/accounts/login/?next=/truthovertribe_/" rel="noopener noreferrer" target="_blank">Instagram</a> to join in on the dialogue! <strong>Want to learn more about Truth Over Tribe?</strong> Visit our <a href="https://info.choosetruthovertribe.com/subscribe?utm_campaign=TOT%20Campaign%203B&amp;utm_source=Show%20Notes%20" rel="noopener noreferrer" target="_blank">website</a> and subscribe to our weekly <a href="https://choosetruthovertribe.com/?utm_campaign=TOT%20Campaign%203B&amp;utm_source=Show%20Notes%20-%20website" rel="noopener noreferrer" target="_blank">newsletter</a>.</p><p><br></p><p><strong>Resources:</strong></p><p><a href="https://www.amazon.com/World-Fire-Everyones-Fighting-Everything-ebook/dp/B098W9MSMF/ref=sr_1_2?keywords=rachel+gilson&amp;qid=1638805858&amp;s=digital-text&amp;sr=1-2" rel="noopener noreferrer" target="_blank">World on Fire: Walking in the Wisdom of Christ When Everyone’s Fighting About Everything</a></p><p><a href="https://www.amazon.com/Born-Again-This-Rachel-Gilson/dp/178498390X/ref=sr_1_1?crid=37Q32FEJ9ZFQC&amp;dchild=1&amp;keywords=rachel+gilson+born+again+this+way&amp;qid=1635970603&amp;qsid=146-4881593-5003765&amp;s=books&amp;sprefix=rachel+gilson%2Cstripbooks%2C83&amp;sr=1-1&amp;sres=178498390X%2C1684512433%2C0830851828%2C1496441737%2CB07GSC71YT%2C1400212308%2C1544518919%2CB07HCNCYRW&amp;srpt=ABIS_BOOK" rel="noopener noreferrer" target="_blank">Born Again This Way: Coming out, coming to faith, and what comes next</a></p><p><a href="http://info.choosetruthovertribe.com/blog_subscription" rel="noopener noreferrer" target="_blank">Subscribe To Our Blog</a></p><p><a href="http://info.choosetruthovertribe.com/how-tribal-are-you" rel="noopener noreferrer" target="_blank">How Tribal Are You?</a></p>
Rachel's experience in realizing she's attracted to the same sex
02:09 MIN
How Rachel became a Christian
05:55 MIN
Rachel's journey through answering "Why Jesus limits marriage and sex to male and female couples."
08:14 MIN
Gay identity and gay relationships - Are they in the Bible?
03:13 MIN
We need to open up more conversations
03:52 MIN

Keith Simon: Are you tired of tribalism?

Audio: I think a lot of what the left supports is satanic. The only time religious freedom is invoked is in the name of bigotry and discrimination.

Patrick Miller: Are you exhausted by the culture war?

Audio: If they don't like it here, they can leave. You could put half of Trump supporters into what I call the basket of deplorables.

Keith Simon: Are you suspicious of those who say Jesus endorses their political party?

Audio: Is it possible to be a good Christian and also be a member of the Republican party? And the answer is absolutely not. From certainly a biblical standpoint, Christians could not vote democratic.

Patrick Miller: We trust the lamb, not the donkey or the elephant.

Keith Simon: This is the podcast that's too liberal for conservatives and too conservative for liberals.

Patrick Miller: I'm Patrick Miller.

Keith Simon: And I'm Keith Simon, and we choose truth over tribe.

Patrick Miller: Do you? Rachel Gilson has one of the best book titles I've read in the last few years, Born Again This Way, and as the title suggests, she has an interesting story. Rachel grew up in a small town, but she was always incredibly sharp, which you know, because she ended up going to Yale. But when she was a teenager living in that small town, she began to discover that she was attracted to women. She goes to Yale, and at Yale something unexpected happens. She encounters Jesus. Her family wasn't religious. She hadn't thought much about God before that. But this encounter radically changed who she was, and she started having to think differently about her same sex attraction. What did it mean that she was attracted to women, how did she navigate that in her life, and why would God put a restriction there? There are so many interesting questions and so many interesting aspects of her story that I do not want to ruin, but I want to say this. Her story and her example has been a profound witness to me personally. As a straight person, I haven't had to give up a lot to follow Jesus, but there are many same sex attracted people who have given up tremendous amounts in order to follow Jesus. She says in her book that we shouldn't be pagans with Christian hobbies, and when I look at the witness of same sex attracted Christians, it reminds me that that's something I don't want to be true in my life. I want to be a Christian who is following Jesus with my whole heart. Rachel's been an example of that for me in my life, and I think that you are really going to enjoy this interview. Thanks so much for being on the show today, Rachel.

Rachel Gilson: I'm glad to be here.

Patrick Miller: So I want to start with your personal story. How did you come to realize that you were same sex attracted?

Rachel Gilson: Yeah. This is an important question. I think it's especially important because a lot of the studies of sexuality that have been done in the West have focused on male sexuality. I don't know if that's surprising to you, but it turns out that men who experience same sex attraction usually notice when they're very, very young, even before they have a language to talk about sexuality. Sometimes, they'll know as early as three, four, five that they're different.

Patrick Miller: Interesting.

Rachel Gilson: And that wasn't my experience. I didn't know at three, four, five, six, seven, eight. I never suspected that I experience same sex attraction. I didn't really even think about it actively until I started liking, like liking, that's the technical term, whatever, this girl in high school. I was 15. She was 17. She invited me over to her house. Really, she just wanted to use me as a study guide for this hard test we had to take. I was sitting there across from her staying up all night and realizing I was feeling this complex set of emotions. I was like," Wait a minute, isn't this what people describe as when you're into somebody?" I'm like," That can't be. That can't be." I scrambled for a second because I had attempted to date guys because I enjoy the company of men but it always felt super awkward. It was like," Oh, you're fun," but then when it got to the physical aspects, I was like," Well, this is kind of weird. I don't know." I sometimes joke maybe that's because I was hooking up with teenage boys, which-

Patrick Miller: Who wants to do that?

Rachel Gilson: Yeah. You know what I mean? It's sort of the population sample there is a little-

Patrick Miller: It's already off.

Rachel Gilson: ...low quality to begin with. Yeah, exactly. And so I only found out a couple years ago, I'm 36 now, that many women who experience same sex attraction actually don't develop these feelings until adolescents or even post adolescence.

Patrick Miller: Oh, really?

Rachel Gilson: So, for a while, I had felt deeply insecure about my status as someone who experienced same sex attraction because I didn't really notice it until I was 15. I thought," Well, that can't be right. That's not the story." But it turns out it's because I've been listening to the male script.

Patrick Miller: Oh, that's really interesting. Actually, a friend now, who when he came out of the closet, he had a bunch of friends tell him," Hey, I always knew you were gay," and he got really angry at them because he goes," You knew it? Because I didn't know it. I didn't realize this was going on." That's an experience that stuck with me, and he wasn't saying that in the past he was attracted to women and now he's attracted to men. He'd just never been attracted to women. It was just later in life that he came to this realization that," Huh, I feel the feelings that other people talked about when I'm with men." So I'm hearing you say something similar here.

Rachel Gilson: Yeah. Well, and a lot of people, before they come out to others socially, they do have to actually navigate an experience where they come out to themselves, where you're sort of like," Is this what I'm feeling? Is this what I would name it? What's the right language?" People spend a lot of time trying to figure out how to diagnose and-

Patrick Miller: What was that like for you? Was that a disorienting experience?

Rachel Gilson: Well, that's a great question. In my first moments, I sort of had a cultural ting of," Wait, is this wrong?" Because, again, I was 15 in the year 2001. This was early Bush era, right?

Patrick Miller: Yeah. So, I mean, in 2001, gay identity is not something that's widely culturally accepted. It's not what it is right now.

Rachel Gilson: Yeah. It's not the same thing. In 1997, Ellen had been blacklisted from TV for just coming out on a sitcom, right? I mean, I sometimes joke this is back when Will& Grace was still edgy, not nostalgic.

Patrick Miller: Yeah. It was controversial.

Rachel Gilson: Yeah. Massachusetts didn't legalize same sex marriage until 2004, so it was a hinge point, for sure. So I spent about a week wondering," Is this wrong? I think I've received that it's wrong." But way before the phrase love is love became a thing, I was like," I can't think of any reasons why it would be wrong. How is it any different from just liking anyone in particular?" So, after about seven days, I was like,"Fine. I'm just going to try to hook up with this girl, and I'm not going to really worry about the moral status too much."

Patrick Miller: Did you come out to your parents? I mean, how did they respond? How did they react?

Rachel Gilson: Oh my goodness. This is kind of a funny stor, and I can't really give you the full family background. By the time I was in high school, I was only living with my mom. My dad had moved out, and she was having her own troubles. Right as I was getting ready to fly to see my then girlfriend in New York City... I'd gotten cheap tickets because it was right after September 11th. I was flying in December.

Patrick Miller: And your mom's okay with this?

Rachel Gilson: My mom was like," Whatever, it's fine." I just bought the tickets myself. She basically, over dinner at the airport, asked me if I was dating this girl. I was in the middle of a bite, and I was like," Uh- huh( affirmative)," and then we just moved on.

Patrick Miller: So she said nothing?

Rachel Gilson: Well, my mom had stolen her dad's credit card in 1980 and moved to the gayest section of San Francisco from Chicago, so she's not really the kind of person who has much of a leg to stand on in terms of objections.

Patrick Miller: So you weren't worried about her response, but you just weren't that invested in talking to her about it?

Rachel Gilson: I wasn't worried about her response in that sense. I just had the very teenage feeling of," I don't want to talk to my mom about my sex life." It was much more that vein than worrying about homophobic reactions or anything like that. I just never got around to telling my dad because he and I weren't hanging that much in high school, not for any particular reason. I love my dad. He'd moved kind of far away. Well, and this is jumping ahead in the story a little bit, but my freshman year, I came to Christ, and then a couple years after college, I married a man. So I never had gotten around to telling my dad about this part of my life, and he didn't find out until he read my story in Christianity Today, which I didn't realize. I'd sort of forgotten that I hadn't told him, and I went back to Christmas, and he was like," So this was interesting." I'm like," Can you imagine finding out in a major publication? How"-

Patrick Miller: Yeah. That is hard.

Rachel Gilson: I felt pretty badly about it. He's not a Christian either, and so it was multiple layers of," Oops, sorry, Dad." He's cool. He doesn't care.

Patrick Miller: Family dysfunction is ubiquitous, and we all have our parts to play in it. It's interesting hearing you tell your story because your story is, in many ways, almost the exact opposite at this point as someone who would've grown up in a fundamentalist Christian household and discovers that," I'm same sex attracted and I need to tell my parents."

Rachel Gilson: Oh my goodness. Yeah.

Patrick Miller: I mean, I wonder if that's important, but you're on a totally different wavelength.

Rachel Gilson: Oh, it's very important. One of my very good friends, who's a disciple who experiences same sex attraction, he grew up overseas on the mission field, and one of his experiences was like," I can never tell anyone. I can barely whisper this to myself." So one of the burdens that he's had to bear is just peeling back years and years of shame and self- condemnation and terrible worry. Even though he had a fantastic family and he's out now and totally following the Lord and his family's amazing, but just, I mean, over a decade of almost paralyzing fear. I didn't deal with any of that, and that is actually a really important aspect of the story as we think about disciples who experience same sex attraction. I am a major outlier, and, honestly, the fact that it was easier for me to reconcile my sexuality with the Gospel because I grew up outside of the church is something I would really like to see changed. I would rather kids have an easier time navigating this because they grew up in the church.

Patrick Miller: Why do you think it was easier for you?

Rachel Gilson: This is a complicated answer. I'm going to try to make it simple. I think it was easier for me because I wasn't taught to demonize same sex attraction, and part of what we have inherited in certain church cultures, in conservative church cultures, we'll say, is a hypocritical relationship to God's sexual ethic. So, on the one hand, it has been actively taught that if you even experience same sex attraction, that you chose that because you hate God. I mean, literally, that's an extreme version, but that's literally something that has been taught from pulpits, where, on the other hand, straight folks' use of pornography or sleeping together before they're married, it's all explained away. "Well, everybody deals with that," or, "Well, they're going to get married," or whatever it is, right? I mean, even two-year-olds can tell when something's deeply unfair. So not only do you have a crushing fear that this part of your life signals something perhaps irredeemable. I mean, I've talked to so many disciples who grew up in the church, have discovered their same sex attraction, and spent years worrying if God could ever possibly love them. Talk about that kind of burden, and that's not biblical. We did that to our kids. God didn't do that. So I was able to approach and understand this experience in my life. I mean, not that it was perfect, but I didn't have that weighing on it, and so by the time I encountered the Gospel, I was able to approach scripture, I don't know, with more freedom, with more clarity.

Patrick Miller: I mean, it's definitely one of my prayers. I've got two little kids at home, and, obviously, I don't know what their journey, their future is. I remember... Maybe my wife asked me. Someone at some point asked me the question," Would you think it was worse if your child was indulging in heterosexual sin? Would you think that was worse? They're sleeping around. They're sleeping with everybody at school. Would you pick that over them having same sex attraction but not acting on it?"

Rachel Gilson: That is an outrageous question. The fact that that would even be a choice diagnoses how much of a problem we have.

Patrick Miller: Exactly. Because the answer's obvious. I want the child who's same sex attracted.

Rachel Gilson: The answer is obvious.

Patrick Miller: Hey, I'm going to follow Jesus. But it highlights what you're saying, which is so many parents would say... And the exact same thing, I think, actually happens in the whole trans debate, where I've been asked similar questions of," Would you rather have a child who's, again, heterosexual, they're living a normal heterosexual life, but they're living in sin and doing all kinds of things that are against God's will, or they're trans and they're struggling with gender dysphoria?"

Rachel Gilson: It could be called the normal heterosexual life. I don't know if you've met straight people, but-

Patrick Miller: That's exactly right. And, again, it's just highlighting the point of we have some sins that we're willing to accept and embrace and show grace towards and others that we want to demonize and otherize and say," I don't know how to deal with you, so I just need to put you into your own little box where I don't have to think about it anymore." It's interesting to me that that's a key part of your story. I mean, maybe share how you became a Christian because you don't have the normal ingredients for Christian faith. You didn't come from a Christian family. You're same sex attracted. You're a deep thinker who went to an elite university. These are not usually, again, the ingredients for," And then I became a Christian." So tell us how that happened.

Rachel Gilson: No, and even by the end of high school, I had a deep relationship with my English teacher who I loved, who was an atheist, and I would write... Instead of name on the top of my English papers, I would just write Satan as a pet name. It was a joke between she and I. So... Yeah.

Patrick Miller: Because you guys both thought it was funny, yeah.

Rachel Gilson: We both thought it was hilarious. Yeah. Obviously, I didn't think I was Satan. Yeah. So I grew up in a sleepy, sleepy one stop light type town in Southern California, and so I was so excited to get into a big East Coast school. I thought Yale was going to be the best possible place to explore big ideas, which I had been longing to do, and to give some freedom to my sexuality, and both of those things were really true. But the trouble was that I was disastrously underprepared to be at a place like Yale. I went to a middling public high school, so by the time I landed in New Haven, I was like," Oh no, everyone here is smarter than me," which was true all four years. It's not something like," Oh, and then I discovered that I actually should have been there." No, I was back of the pack. I was like," Okay, well, got to deal with all the identity things that that causes."

Patrick Miller: How did that affect your sense of self?

Rachel Gilson: Oh, that's a whole nother podcast, the way that elite students show up in these spaces and have their sense of identity destroyed. Actually, Alan Noble reflects on it pretty well in his new book, You're Not Your Own. He's got a great section on Sylvia Plath.

Patrick Miller: Well, we'll have to have him on the show, and I'll talk with him about that. But keep going. How did you become a Christian? How did that happen?

Rachel Gilson: So then, at the same time, the girl I had been dating broke up with me, and you know teenage break- ups. They're very dramatic and sad, and I didn't know what to do, and I was feeling-

Patrick Miller: I became a Christian after a break- up.

Rachel Gilson: Yeah. So the Lord uses these types of things, right?

Patrick Miller: He does.

Rachel Gilson: We're in this low and sad place. But it was at the bottom of myself, and it wasn't like," Oh, I need to turn to Jesus," because I didn't believe in Jesus. I thought I needed to go to the gym more, improve my CV or something. But the Lord did use my location in that place really powerfully. I was taking a course through Western philosophy. It's part of this interdisciplinary thing. So our first lecture back in that semester, so it was probably early January, frankly, was on Rene Descartes, the guy who coined the phrase," I think, therefore I am." Part of the lecture was explaining how, from that phrase, he builds this whole proof of the existence of God. It's an important moment in Western philosophy, obviously. So I remember sitting in the auditorium listening to this and thinking," That is an incredibly stupid proof for the existence of God," which I still think. It's bonkers. But while I was sitting there, I was like," Well, there could be other good proofs for the existence of God somewhere." I remember immediately feeling cagey about it, like,"Nuh-uh(negative), nuh-uh(negative), that's for stupid bigots. We don't think about these things. Nope, nope, nope." But I also really couldn't stop myself from thinking about it, just an itch I needed to scratch. I'm a millennial, right? So I Googled it. Even in 2004, that's what we did, right? I mean, long hours spent following those hyperlink trails, do you know what I mean, where you're like," I don't even know how I got to this page, but here I am." Who knows what I was even reading?

Patrick Miller: Yeah. You went down the rabbit hole.

Rachel Gilson: Yeah. I really did, just random spiritual search terms. I remember my roommates would come in. I would shut my computer like I was a kid caught looking at porn on the family computer.

Patrick Miller: No, you're just learning about God.

Rachel Gilson: Ugh. So I kept reading about Jesus. I had had this character of Jesus in my mind like he was a George W. Bush wrapped in a toga or something like this, which was not a helpful image to me at that time in life.

Patrick Miller: No, it's not, but I've never heard someone describe Jesus that way. If Born Again This Way was a great title, George W. Bush wrapped in a toga might be the best description of a white Jesus I've ever heard.

Rachel Gilson: Oh my goodness. That's true. We should file that one away. So, instead, when I was reading about him, I kept encountering this character. I really thought of him more as a character than a real person, but, still, this character who was compelling, intelligent, interesting. I was like,"I don't know. I want to marry a woman someday. I'm not even allowed to be interested in Jesus as a character. It's just a category error." But the only two people I knew at Yale who identified as Christians were these two girls who were dating each other. I should say young women. They weren't girls. They were in their 20s, and one of them was training to be a Lutheran minister. So I thought," Okay. So, clearly, they don't think this is out of bounds." So I went to talk to them. They were the only people I was willing to admit my interest to, and I was very nervous about the whole thing. I mean, they were great. They were like," No, it's all been a big misunderstanding. The Bible fully supports faithful same sex relationships." So they weren't talking about crazy sleeping around or anything. They were saying," No, marriage can be between two men and two women. It can fulfill the same things." They gave me this whole packet of information explaining the correct interpretations, and I love a packet, so I was pumped. I was taking this back to my room. I remember going through it, and it was really compelling. The arguments made a lot of sense to me. It had an internal consistency. It's not like I was a religion scholar. At the same time, I was like," Well, I should probably also look at the Bible verses themselves, not just these interpretations out of context." I didn't have a Bible, so I would pull them up on my computer, sort of comparing the computer to the packet, and I remember thinking," Okay, these don't look as good anymore once I'm comparing them to the actual text." What's difficult now, 18 years after this story, is I've become so well- versed in affirming arguments that now I'm like," What exactly was I reading there? Which ones was it? How was I convinced?" Sometimes, I get that question, and I don't really remember the specifics. I mean, that's part of the difficulty of being almost two decades away. I just remember being like,"I don't think these actually work. This is great that these girls think this works for them, but it seems pretty clear to me the Bible says no to gay relationships."

Patrick Miller: So you had a high sense of intellectual integrity, even at that point. You're not necessarily a Christian, but you're looking and saying-

Rachel Gilson: Oh, I wasn't a Christian at all. Yeah.

Patrick Miller: But to at least be honest about what's being said here.

Rachel Gilson: Yeah. I was like," Well, they think it works, so I want to know what they think," and I just came to the opposite conclusion. I was like," Yeah, of course, it makes sense that this kind of book wouldn't support this." I was like," Well, it was foolish for me to think that it would." So short time after that, I happened to be in the room of a friend who was a non- practicing Catholic. Really, I wasn't even so much in her room as I was standing in her doorway while she was getting something. I think we were going to walk to class or whatever. So she had a bookshelf next to her doorway, and I love looking at people's bookshelves and judging them. It's one of my favorite hobbies.

Patrick Miller: That's a great pastime.

Rachel Gilson: And Yale bookshelves are amazing, as you might imagine. So I remember looking through her stuff, and she had this book called Mere Christianity by C. S. Lewis. Now, I hadn't been raised on Narnia, so it didn't trigger all the yummy noises that sometimes come up with people, like,"Mm." But I was like," Well, the title of the book is really good. I want to read it." But I was also so embarrassed by my interest that I didn't want to ask my friend if I could borrow it. I'm sure she would've said yes. She's a kind and generous person. But, instead, I just stole the book, grabbed it off the shelf, put it right in my bag because it's not that big and it's not that hard to do and I had literally no moral compass.

Patrick Miller: You shoplifted Mere Christianity.

Rachel Gilson: Yeah, I did. And later in life, I ended up giving away free copies at a book table on campus. It was a type of atonement maybe. I don't know.

Patrick Miller: Were you propitiating... Yeah. I was like," What are you trying to do?"

Rachel Gilson: I never gave that book back to her either, which is sort of the terrible part. I still have it, whatever. So I was reading this book in the library one day, and it wasn't a particular sentence or paragraph or anything like that, but I was just suddenly overwhelmed by reading it, while reading it, not really by reading it, that there really was a God, not in a generic store brand way but the God who made me, the holy God who I was going to owe an account to. The first thing that I felt was fear because I was a deeply immoral person. I mean, we were just talking about this, right? I was sexually immoral. I was mean. I was arrogant. I would lie. I would cheat on stuff. I was reading a stolen book. Clearly, I hadn't marked off much space for myself to hide. That's the first thing I felt, was like," Oh, this is really bad news for me." At the same time, I think the Spirit also made it clear to me in that moment that part of the reason Jesus had come was to place himself as a barrier between God's wrath and me like a big sturdy wall, and so that the way to be safe was to run towards him, not away from him. So my first feeling was like," I don't want to become a Christian. That's really lame." But I also was like," Well, I can't pretend that this isn't true just because it's stupid, like socially stupid. I can't pretend it's not true because it's inconvenient for my lifestyle. This is a really good deal. I should take it." You know what I mean? I didn't have a nice pastor or campus minister sitting with me, so I just prayed and was like," Okay, fine. I'll be a Christian." Then I went to class.

Patrick Miller: Then you went to class, that's it. Yeah. So you began this journey with Jesus, and you've written that you were saying no to gay sex, gay relationships without really understanding why.

Rachel Gilson: Yeah.

Patrick Miller: You knew what Jesus and the Bible said but maybe couldn't explain it. Why is this the case? That led you down a path, a journey towards trying to answer the question why. Why is this part of God's will, God's plan for humanity? So could you share some of what you've learned on that journey with us, why Jesus limits marriage and sex to males and female couples.

Rachel Gilson: Yeah. Because I think, at the base of it, I felt like what God was saying was arbitrary-

Patrick Miller: I think a lot of people feel that way.

Rachel Gilson: ...and also cruel.

Patrick Miller: Yeah.

Rachel Gilson: Yeah. I was sort of like," How could it possibly make a difference? I don't get it."

Patrick Miller: Well, and I think if you have friends who are in gay relationships, it's hard not to feel that way, right-

Rachel Gilson: crosstalk-

Patrick Miller: ...because I know gay couples who have frankly healthier, better relationships and marriages then straight couples I know.

Rachel Gilson: Oh, definitely.

Patrick Miller: And so there's all this cognitive dissonance for me to walk in and say," Well, I don't think that's in God's will," or... It does, it seems arbitrary, and, like you said, it even seems cruel, like I'm taking away something that has been so valuable in my own life and saying," But not for you."

Rachel Gilson: Right. We all have experienced that a marriage being male and female does not automatically make it good or holy. It does not automatically reflect God's goodness just because of the gender composition. You know what I mean?

Patrick Miller: Mm- hmm( affirmative).

Rachel Gilson: Not that I could have expressed it that articulately when I was first a believer, but I bumped up against that arbitrary and cruel thing so many times. One of the things that was really helpful for me, really formative for me at that time, was thinking a lot about, actually, the story in the garden. So you might recall God puts Adam and Eve in this garden. He gives them the most beautiful vision to go forth and subdue the earth and be fruitful and multiply and this whole thing. They have everything they need, and they only have one prohibition, and their one prohibition is," Don't eat the fruit that's on this tree in the midst of the garden. The day you eat it, you're going to die." The crazy thing to me about that prohibition is that it doesn't make sense. I mean, even vegans eat fruit. You know what I mean? It's not a thing. So one of the things that it contributed to me was, well, it turns out living by faith and not by sight was part of our relationship with God even before the fall. But I also felt such a kinship with Eve because part of what happened when the serpent came and tempted her was he got her to evaluate the commandment with her own data, right? She saw that it was attractive. She saw that it was going to be good to eat. She saw that it was desirable to make her wise. That's a lot of good data to say," I should do this." The only thing she had on the other side was God's word saying," If you do this, you're going to die," right? So that makes it seem like God's holding out on her, which is crazy because she has all this evidence that God is completely for her, and yet she eats and Adam eats and it's been bad news since then, right? I felt so much the same, like I had all these reasons why I should say yes to what felt like my natural desires for sex and romance, and the only thing I had on the other side was God's word saying," If you do this, you're going to die." So what it did is it pressed me into," Can I trust him," because if I was only willing to obey when I both understood and agreed, then I wasn't really letting God be God, right? I was making myself God. The only way you can trust someone when what they're saying sounds crazy is when they have proven themselves trustworthy. If a random stranger walks up to you on the street and asks you to do something harmful to your body or something that seems risky, you're going to blow them off. You don't know who they are, and all your data says," No, this whole situation is ridiculous." But if you have a parent who you would trust your life with or a best friend who you've known for decades, who would do anything for you, and they ask you something that sounds kind of weird but you know that they're for you, it's easier to say yes. I'm not saying there's no complications even there, but the strength of relationship is what carries you through the decision. That was what became vital for me in my early discipleship. Could I trust Christ? I think for anyone who is trying to consider how the Bible relates to LGBT questions, we all have to make that consideration. You cannot live off of the fumes of my conviction. If you are not personally sure that Jesus Christ is good for you and for same sex attracted disciples, then you're not going to make it long. We will find ways to distort his word.

Patrick Miller: So at the fundamental base, you had to get to this point where you acknowledge and realize," Jesus is good, Jesus is for me, Jesus wants what's best for me, and because I know all of those things, because those are facts, in the scale, they outweigh some of the experiences, feelings, and even hurt and hardship that I'm going through right now because I know that he's for me." But I am curious. Do you think that God's commands regarding sex and sexuality... Are they arbitrary? Are they cruel?

Rachel Gilson: I understand why they feel that way, and I think part of it is because we've warped the way that we've taught biblical sexuality. God's character is not arbitrary and cruel. So when his words seem arbitrary or cruel, it means there's something we're missing. Sometimes, I describe it like... So my family owns a 2007 Honda Odyssey, and I just want to give you a moment to tamp down your envy there, and this car was designed to run on gasoline. That's how it works. So I can't say that it's arbitrary or cruel that it doesn't run if I fill the tank with maple syrup or bubble bath.

Patrick Miller: If you're lucky, one of your kids will try that one day.

Rachel Gilson: Oh, for real, though. It gets designed to do a certain thing. It runs on gas. So the no comes from a previous yes. I think part of the church's task is we need to recover the yes that God has already given to us about our bodies and about what sexuality is, and that helps frame the whole conversation. I spend a lot of time in this in various places, but we can even understand Marriage is very clearly a living metaphor for God's relationship with his people. The Bible begins and ends with a marriage. God is consistently comparing his relationship with people to a marriage. So it's not a hidden, mysterious thing. It's a very clear thing. So everything that God designs to be true about human marriage is to reflect the marriage that it's talking about. So why is human marriage supposed to be faithful? Well, because God is faithful to his people forever and we're supposed to be faithful. Why is human marriage supposed to be the site of sexual pleasure? Well, because God desires us intensely, and have you ever been so distracted by sexual desire it feels like nothing could possibly break through? Part of the reason sexual desire is so strong is because it's designed to point us to how much God longs for us. which, frankly, is even a help in understanding our sexuality if we are not married. Sex isn't a weird, mean trick that God played on us. It communicates. We know it communicates. That's why every single one of our songs and TV shows and movies is about sex, right? Sex does all of these things. I mean, the fact that it's the thing that leads to procreation is because God's relationship with his people is supposed to be fruitful and build families. But it's also a relationship that sex differentiated, partially because of procreation. Protestants have jumped onto contraception. Why couldn't I remember that word? That's so funny. Protestants have jumped on the contraception bandwagon so aggressively that it's like we forget that sex produces babies. I mean, that's part of the reason male and female exists. But it's also embedded even deeper. It's talking about these two non- interchangeable parties who come together because of the work of Christ. We are so much the same and yet so fundamentally different. There's no type of difference that runs deeper in humanity than male and female. I don't care if you like Enneagram or any of these types of things, right? Male and female is it, and it pictures that relationship with these non- interchangeable parties between God and humanity that are able to come together of the work of Christ, which is part of the reason why, of course, straight marriages aren't automatically holy. You can have one element of human marriages and then trash all the other ones, and it's not a good Gospel marriage. It's also why we can see some gay couples who really are living out faithfulness, all these other good things, but at the core of their marriage, it is not lined up with how God designed marriage to tell the story of the Gospel. We don't need to demonize those relationships. It doesn't mean our gay friends are particularly evil. All of us experience and express our sexuality in ways that fall short of what God is saying.

Patrick Miller: It's a really beautiful way of framing it, and it's a storied way of framing it. It's not how we're used to talking about sex and sexuality. We tend to be so almost scientific and prescriptive, and you're making a point-

Rachel Gilson: There's tons of science about it.

Patrick Miller: Oh, there is. But you're making a broader point that there's a story, and it's a story of the whole world, and we're playing a role, we're playing a part in it, and that's the story that helps make of our lives. I mean, I think we've lost a sense of telos, of ends, of goals, and, because of that, we don't ask the question," What was this thing made for." This is your point with the van and everything else. What was this thing made for? Why does this thing exist? What's its purpose? I would do well in my own heterosexual marriage to remember that the goal of my marriage is to reflect God's love for humanity, God's love for Israel, God's love for the church ultimately. Man, if I did that more, regardless of being heterosexual, gay, or whatever else, marriages would be much, much, much better.

Rachel Gilson: Well, and it would also give more breathing space to the fact that singleness is a calling that is full of dignity and glory. Because marriage is designed to display the Gospel, but it's not the only thing that's designed to display the Gospel. Marriage are these little walking around pictures of God and his people. But singleness is a very powerful New Covenant form that says," These little marriages are actually just pointing to the big marriage, and I'm betting my life on the big marriage." To be single for the sake of Christ is to say you're betting your life on the resurrection because our whole society says you are not saved without a romantic partner. By society, I mean the church. It's Disney, and it's Big Eva. You know what I mean? Everyone's saying salvation by romance.

Patrick Miller: Yeah, absolutely.

Rachel Gilson: So, in the culture, it's consent. In the church, it's marriage. But either way, we say it is inhuman to live without a romantic partner. God has said that our churches are to be filled with singles and marrieds because both of them together tell the full story. We are an eschatological story. We're in a story that's talking about something that's coming, and these little marriages won't exist there. In the New Heavens and the New Earth, everybody is single and everybody is married. Every single person is part of the bride of Christ, and that can make some men feel uncomfortable, and I just remind them that I'm also referred to as a son of God. So the gendered language cuts in a lot of directions in the New Testament.

Patrick Miller: Absolutely. That's a beautiful picture. We'll be back to our episode really quick. Look, if you're enjoying the content in here, you want to sign up for our newsletter. We like to write little articles every week that are based on our podcast, but they really take one idea that we don't spend a lot of time talking about and expand them, not to a super long article but to an article you could read in 10 minutes and get a good little nugget out of that's going to help you think about what's happening in our world in a more Jesus- centered way. So make sure to go to choosetruthovertribe.com and subscribe to our newsletter. I want to transition for a second and talk about some affirming arguments. We had David Gushee on this podcast, gosh, probably several months ago from when this will come out. But he wrote a book about changing his mind on lesbian and gay relationships, and on the podcast, he said that, look, for the three to 5% of our population that experiences same sex attraction, the covenantal model of marriage, so monogamous, lifelong, committed marriage... The covenantal model of marriage is what produces long- term spiritual health.

Rachel Gilson: Right. So there's the salvation by romance argument again. Is that biblical? Is that biblical? Do we see anything in the Bible that says you better get married because that's how you're sanctified? Not even once, not a single text. David Gushee is smarter than me, older than me, and probably more spiritually mature, but I have to call garbage on that.

Patrick Miller: Well, you'll have to listen to the podcast and tell me what you think. Hey, let me go down a slightly different route. Matthew Vines, who's a millennial like you and me and a really-

Rachel Gilson: Yeah. And a Harvard dropout.

Patrick Miller: I didn't know that, but I feel like that's shots fired. I'm a state school guy, so no one's impressed.

Rachel Gilson: I married a state school guy. Y'all are the best.

Patrick Miller: Good. But Matthew Vines, he made waves by creating a YouTube video that a lot of people... This came out when I was in college or maybe slightly after college, I can't quite remember, where he was arguing, again, this is kind of what you got when you were talking to the two women who were preparing to become Lutheran ministers, that essentially we've misread the Bible's teaching on this. He'd argued that the Bible has no category for gay identity or gay relationships and that we've taken a very small number of verses about gay sex, which actually probably refer to pederasty, so older men who have young boy lovers, and that they've misapplied them. So what would you say to that view?

Rachel Gilson: I mean, so many things. If your listeners want a really good rundown of this, they should check out the Center for Faith, Gender, and Sexuality's article called 15 Affirming Arguments and 15 Responses. Yeah. All of these things have been thoroughly responded to in various ways, right? So, one, the language stuff. You'll notice that in my description of what sexuality was doing, I didn't once need to reference any of those inaudible verses. I didn't once need to go to the text that said no to same sexual or romantic relationships because even the yes of the Bible already gives us enough.

Patrick Miller: What do you mean by that?

Rachel Gilson: It already gives us enough. We see repeatedly that male- female faithful marriage throughout the scriptures is what God calls marriage. That's the definition of marriage. We never see a romantic same sex relation that's called marriage or not that's ever given any type of clearance ever, and that's not because the Ancient Near East or the Greco- Roman world didn't know about these relationships. These were common and known relationships, and God is consistently interested in overturning our silly assumptions. So if he wanted to prick us on this, he would have.

Patrick Miller: I'm glad you brought up that latter point because it's something I hear talked about a lot, people who are essentially making the argument that in the ancient world, they had no knowledge of same sex attraction, they had no knowledge of gay relationships. We talked about archeologists earlier. Archeologists are continually discovering all kinds of things that are suggesting exactly the opposite. This has been something that's been part of human cultures going back thousands of years.

Rachel Gilson: Forever. Yeah, exactly. And as for the argument that the places that are saying no are referring to pederasty, there's a whole set of vocabulary around pederasty, just like we're using the technical words here. That's not what Paul's talking about in Romans 1 or in First Corinthians 6 or in First Timothy. He's using totally different words, specifically words that actually tag to the Greek translation of the Old Testament, where these things are said no to in Leviticus. The thing is many of us are attracted to affirming arguments because the way that churches who have held that marriage is male and female have treated LGBT people is horrific. Because the church has been horrifically awful to gay and lesbian and transgender people, we know that can't be what Jesus is talking about, so it's very persuasive that we've gotten the Bible wrong. Part of our difficulty is the church was only accidentally correct. Most people in the church did not hold that marriage was male and female because they'd done this rich theological interaction with the scriptures. If they had, we wouldn't see this knee- jerk rejection of singleness, which, by the way, in First Corinthians 7, is definitely the varsity team, and marriage is JV, right? All they had was a cultural yuck factor to gay and lesbian people, which produced all kinds of terrible theology and lies and abuse. So I am incredibly sympathetic to people who are drawn to affirming arguments. We have not, as the church, given them any reason to think that non- affirming arguments should be given the light of day because of the way of people who supposedly held them have treated everyone, really.

Patrick Miller: Absolutely. C. S. Lewis has this great quote where he talks about how the Devil sends errors in pairs, and the idea is that because you find one side so repulsive, you pendulum swing into the other side because you see all the problems with side A. But, of course, the exact same thing is true of side B. It doesn't acknowledge its own problems, and people on side A resist because I see all of your issues.

Rachel Gilson: Did you know that side A and side B are technical terms in this conversation?

Patrick Miller: No, I didn't.

Rachel Gilson: Oh, that's really funny side. Side A refers to affirming Christians, and side B refers to non- affirming Christians.

Patrick Miller: Now that you're saying it, it's coming back into recollection. But that's funny. No, I was just talking about that dimension of how we often are reactive to. We're not proactive. We're not developing a theology. We're just responding to things, which never lands us in a good place on either side. I'm curious from your perspective... There's a lot of live debates within the community of people who would say," Hey, we should not affirm same sex relationships," in the sense that," Hey, that's an not God's intention and design," but within the community of people who would agree that's not God's intention design, there's still a massive amount of debate-

Rachel Gilson: Oh, yeah.

Patrick Miller: ...over the issue of sex and sexuality. So I just wanted get your take. One of the debates is whether Christians should call themselves gay Christians. I'm curious where you stand, how you think about that for yourself.

Rachel Gilson: Yeah. Well, I think it's really important to acknowledge that part of the reason there's so much disagreement is because the conversation's so young. Think about it. If even 10 years ago you could barely whisper in a church prayer time that you were gay, we haven't been able to talk to each other. So we've all been wondering and getting bad information all alone. When a conversation is brand new, it needs a lot of work. Think about the church didn't have a developed Christology in the first couple hundred years. Only when there were things that brought in heresy, did we have to be like," Oh, okay, so we need to actually articulate what we think of Christ." Thomas Aquinas' Summa Theologica doesn't have a developed ecclesiology because there was just the church. Not until the Protestant reformation did you have all these disputed... Like,"Well, what is church?"" Okay, now we need to have an ecclesiology." Right? We've never had to ask these questions of our text before.

Patrick Miller: It's almost relieving to hear that because we're already in this pitched battle.

Rachel Gilson: I know.

Patrick Miller: If we could give some space and peace to say," We actually need to dialogue, we need to discuss," and that-

Rachel Gilson: We really need to talk.

Patrick Miller: Yeah. That gives you some freedom and space without fear to try to be faithful and to think. Because I don't know about you, I do my best thinking in the front of my brain, not the back of my brain. But when I get angry, when I start feeling threatened, you know where I'm living. I'm living right there in the limbic system.

Rachel Gilson: That's right. That's right. Defensiveness brings out the worst parts of us, and part of what's happening, especially for those of us who experience same sex attraction who identify as gay Christians, is it feels like we need to have that family meeting in the living room that's kind of tense because there's a lot of emotions wrapped up. You know family meetings. They're really hard, but it'd be if you're trying to have this hard conversation in your living room and your neighbors have opened up the windows and are screaming at you and policing about what you're allowed to say or not, and so it feels like I can give you my thoughts on the language around queer or gay Christianity, but one of the most difficult things is the way that that gets weaponized by people who are not personally involved in this conversation to start making shibboleths out of this stuff. I've been very public. I think that there are problems with LGBT language. I think the ways that it can hijack our identity are live and present. I also have many friends who, like we talked about earlier in this episode, have been so crippled for years by even acknowledging that they're same sex attracted that sometimes being able to just call themselves gay and realizing they're not going to spontaneously combust, it's actually a really helpful discipleship step. So we need to be really thoughtful as we engage in this. People are choosing their language carefully over time, and there's often really important stories that go into this. Most of the people I know like myself who really don't want to use LGBT language, it's because we were actually in gay relationships before we became Christians, so that language ends up tagging to stuff that we're like," We walked away from that." Most of my friends who gravitate towards LGBT language and are mature disciples have never had any type of actual gay relationship. And, of course, that's a broad brush, right? There's going to be people of different stories all along the line. But the most important part about this conversation is we need to listen to each other and we need to test these things over time. What actually produces good fruit? It might be different for different people, and I know that we can't stand that. I know that we want a binary little switch of," This is good and this is bad." But the world is messier than that.

Patrick Miller: It really is. I love what you said because where we stand really does depend on where we sit, and people have stories and they have narratives and they have backgrounds that come into a conversation. It's easy for people like me who are straight, who have never experienced anything like this, to start having an abstract argument about a topic that doesn't really land at home for me personally in my life and forget what you're saying, which is there's stories here and there's people who are coming to their conclusions as a result of what they've experienced both inside and outside of the church. That's really helpful.

Rachel Gilson: And story doesn't make us right. You may have a really compelling story and come up with something that's really dumb. That's why we need each other, right? We need to correct each other.

Patrick Miller: I will fail to understand where you're at if I don't understand your story. In other words, my responsibility, especially as someone who's straight, who's not in this camp, is I think I have to lean in to listening first before I start weighing it. Your image of the family gathering happening and then people shouting through the window really kind of... It sticks out well to me. It's like," Maybe I need to ask politely,'Can I sit in on the family meeting and not talk and learn a little bit?'" Then we can have some conversations afterwards in love and grace and charity where we assume the best about each other because we have a relation. I mean, all of these things get so lost in the debate, and so I appreciate your broader corrective.

Rachel Gilson: And the first 10 years of my discipleship, I didn't know any other Christians who experienced same sex attraction. All of my best friends were straight, and, actually, we were able to help each other. My experience isn't so different from anyone else's. I think that can get lost, too. Every single one of us is going to experience attraction to people that we should not pursue sexually, whether we're single or whether we're married, every single one of us, or those of us who are asexual don't and that's a different sort of experience, right? But we actually do have a ton of commonality. So it's important to represent and to acknowledge a lot of the things that we share and then some of the places that are different, where we need different types of space.

Patrick Miller: I keep thinking about this as a parent, that as my children get older and we start teaching them about sex and sexuality, that we aren't teaching it as though there's a hierarchy of sins and issues or we're not teaching them," So, hey, right now, you're this perfect little model of humanity that is sexually unbroken," which I realize, for a lot of parents, is weird. We think about our six- year- old as," Right now, they're pure," and I want to be like-

Rachel Gilson: No.

Patrick Miller: ..."No,they're not. That little six- year- old is sexually broken." I know that sounds weird to say, but if you-

Rachel Gilson: If they were pure, Jesus wouldn't need to die for them.

Patrick Miller: That's exactly right. And so we have to figure out how do we help that child, my child, walk through their sexual brokenness from a young age, not walk from purity and stay in purity, which I think creates a lot of the problems that you're describing and talking about. One other question. This might feel really far afield, but I really want to get your take. Since Obergefell v. Hodges, in the last six years, in many ways, the gay marriage debate has entirely died down. I mean, you just don't even hear people talking about it anymore.

Rachel Gilson: It's the law of the land.

Patrick Miller: It's the law of land. It's assumed cultural reality. Into the foreground, very suddenly, has been trans issues and issues around trans identity. Again, you've got the church that's trying to figure out how do we orient ourselves around this topic that we have very heated, pitched battles over? But one of the most interesting things I read recently on this topic was by Katie Herzog. She wrote in Andrew Sullivan's newsletter about the closing of most lesbian bars across the country, that there's been a massive closing of lesbian bars. She talked about how Portland, which is the most secular city in the United States, it closed its last lesbian bar a few years ago, and women who previously identified as lesbian, they're increasingly identifying as nonbinary, and lesbian establishments in Portland that are having, quote- unquote, lesbian nights, she said... This is a quote. She said," Most avoided the L- word to appear inclusive to trans and nonbinary people." So I'm just curious. You're someone who I think would've identified as a lesbian in your past. Like you said, this is part of your history. What do you think is happening here? Why is female same sex attraction being absorbed into this gender nonbinary category?

Rachel Gilson: Oh, and it's just so funny to try to have this conversation at the church, right, because we were just discussing same sex attraction. We haven't even been able to talk about straight sexuality, let alone same sex attraction, let alone trans identities, right? So it's like we're little leaguers who are like," I need to learn how to field this ball," and you can't get your glove down right, you can't put the top hand... You're like," Oh, someday, I'll learn how to field this ball." But instead you're being put into World Series baseball. That's what it feels like trying to have the trans conversation. Don't worry that you don't know how to field the ball. Just do the outfield for game seven. We are so not equipped to have this conversation in so many ways. So that's my caveat at the beginning there.

Patrick Miller: That's a great caveat, but to use your metaphor, we don't get to pick. The World Series is happening, and you got to play.

Rachel Gilson: We don't get to pick. But it's the conversation that's around us, absolutely. So there's some pretty complicated history. Sometimes, we see the LGBT acronym presented all together as if it's this one big happy family, but there's a long history of contention within the acronym.

Patrick Miller: Within the whole acronym, not just between L and G and T, but between L and G and B and L and G and B and T and L.

Rachel Gilson: Within the whole acronym. And there's a pretty significant history of white, wealthy, middle- class gay men who want to keep all the good stuff for themselves and shut out everyone else. So it's complicated. In order to say with clarity that I am a woman and that I am sexually attracted to women implies that women is a stable category, and many types of transgender identification, not all, but many want to refuse the existence of that stable identification. So we are seeing in real time two very different systems of thought and understanding of the body and the ontology of our bodies clashing with each other, and we see that some have political power and others don't. So it is an unfortunate reality that what some women want is just a space without men, and they're being told that not accepting trans women as women in the same way is by definition bigotry. Most of these women aren't even trying to say that it's invalid for trans women to transition or to live in the world as transgender women. They just want to keep a distinction that biological women are something different, something unique, something special. So it's very complicated. Part of why it's complicated, too, is because conservatives sometimes hear about this argument and want to use it as a bludgeon to continue to mistreat people who experience gender dysphoria or people who identify as transgender. So it's hard because I want to acknowledge that there are cracks in the firmament. I want to acknowledge that some of the ways these conversations are happening expose the fallacies of multiple world views. But the churches have such a bad history of not loving people in the LGBT community that I'm very uninterested in putting more ammo in those guns, which isn't to say that's what you were doing, but just in general.

Patrick Miller: No, I don't hear you doing that. In fact, I actually hear you doing what you did in the last question that I asked you, which is we have to have a slowness here to speak, a slowness to pull out the gun and start shooting. I have seen what you're describing, people trying to create ammunition to go to bat against this or that group. I know a book that's been really influential for me, and we can link to in the show notes. That's Preston Sprinkle's book, Embodied, where he's trying to wrestle through-

Rachel Gilson: Yes. Everyone should read that book.

Patrick Miller: Yes, it was a great, great book. It was a challenging book. It's thoughtful, it's generous, it's kind, and it's deeply theological. So, again, I highly recommend people listen to it.

Rachel Gilson: Right.

Patrick Miller: But, to be honest, I don't have really any lesbian friends, and so asking that question is more out of a curiosity of how do you respond to this? How does someone who has been involved in that community in the past react to the change that we're undergoing culturally? Gay identity is ascendant and lesbian identity is declining and trans identity is climbing. We're living in a strange moment, and it's hard to know how to orient yourself.

Rachel Gilson: We're absolutely living in a strange moment. Yeah. And I think we should be especially careful. If we know we don't have lesbian friends, then it should already give us a certain type of pause, like you're suggesting, like," Yeah, I do need to listen really well because I don't necessarily have the personal relationships that could help me explore some of the emotions that are happening in here or some of the ways this is playing out on the ground." I know that some of this is tied into just classic bread and butter misogyny, just some of this that women are suspected for things or considered weaker, considered lesser, all these types of things, even while they're valorized in other spaces. So we need to be thoughtful. If we've got daughters, we've got sisters, we've got mothers, if we're women ourselves, what does it mean to take women's voices seriously even while we take the voices of transgender women seriously? I just read a novel called Detransition, Baby, which is written by a transgender woman. It's about a trans woman, a detransitioned trans woman, and a non- transgender woman who are trying to decide if they're going to raise this baby together, which already tells you the levels of-

Patrick Miller: Yeah, there's a lot of layers.

Rachel Gilson: ...exploring femininity, exploring motherhood, which is so deeply related to being a woman and yet is it? It was such a really interesting reflection on the kinds of questions that are behind this. What exactly is gender? What exactly is sex? So the best way is to figure out how can I ask these questions in a way that honor everyone in the conversation, maybe even if they don't deserve honor? We certainly don't deserve the grace that we've received. So try to enter into these spaces asking good questions that don't assume that people are part of some type of nefarious gay agenda. I mean, absolutely, there are LGBT activists, just like there are Christian activists, right? But most LGBT people are not activists. They're just people who want to hold down a job, Netflix and chill, and live their normal American life, you know?

Patrick Miller: Absolutely. One last question before we hop off. You talked about how same sex attracted Christians have a special ministry and witness inside the church. I've experienced this personally, but maybe share to our listeners what do you mean by that, by a special ministry, by a special witness?

Rachel Gilson: Well, I think it's a special witness because of the moment we're in. I'm not sure that it would hold for all places and all times, but some of the things that we've touched on, like our obsession with romance, like our belief that our most authentic self is found inside of us and so whatever my desires are, I have to obey them in order to get my authentic self, the idolization of marriage, the disparagement of singleness, all of these things are places where the same sex attracted disciple has usually had to be much more thoughtful about each of these areas, and the ways that we've had to be thoughtful can be helpful for our straight brothers and sisters as they process their own lives. It's really great when we can do these things in community because we can realize the ways that our questions cross- pollinate each other and add depth and dimension to each other. I think especially in this moment where The culture calls you crazy if you don't say yes to your same sex attraction and they will tell you you're repressed, that you're dead inside, or that you're fooling yourself, or all these kinds of things, you will get attacked for saying yes to Jesus and no to your attractions. A lot of straight people in our country have not had to give up anything like that to follow Jesus. It just hasn't cost them anything, maybe a little bit of social awkwardness but not this type of pressure. So there's something really beautiful about watching folks who are living out a costly obedience in giving us an opportunity to reflect on our own discipleship. It doesn't mean we need to go and look for suffering, but, increasingly, for our children, it's going to cost them something to agree with what God says about our bodies. and it could cause many of them to fall away from the faith. We have to prepare ourselves for that. It's not been what's been true in our country before, so it's incredibly destabilizing, and we're not sure what to do with it. When we're afraid, we do all kinds of crazy things, right? But God has promised he's not given us a spirit of fear but of power and love and self- control.

Patrick Miller: Absolutely. Evangelicals have, at least in America, been used to sitting, if not at the center, near the center of cultural power, of cultural normalcy, of all kinds of things that allow you to feel as though your religious faith is part of the cultural milieu of what's happening inside of your country. When you start losing that, we're seeing these desperate grasps, whether that's what happened with Donald Trump or... All over the place, you're seeing these desperate grasps to try to reclaim power, to try to get a seat at the table again, and I think you hit the nail on the head. It's coming out of fear, and, unfortunately, over the last 50 years, if you look at the animating emotion behind Evangelicalism, I don't think it would be too far off the mark to say it might be fear. Fear might be the thing that is driving us forward. I have personally been deeply inspired by your story, by the story of other same sex attracted Christians who are giving me an example, as someone who, like you just said, really has not had to sacrifice or give much to follow Jesus, who are giving me an example of what costly obedience looks like and actually preparing me in my discipleship for maybe a day where it is going to be more costly to obey and follow Jesus. So I praise God and thank God for you. You have a line where you ask people if you're a pagan with Christian hobbies, and as weird as it sounds, that was my main takeaway from your book. I was like," That is it." What I have to walk away with as a straight person is asking," Am I a pagan with Christian hobbies? Is that what is animating me in my life?" So thank you so much for writing your book Born Again This Way. How can people find you, follow you, get connected to your work?

Rachel Gilson: Yeah, well, I have a Twitter account. It's just @ rachelgilson. I'm an incredible worker. I almost never post. I really just like things. I've got a-

Patrick Miller: You need to post to more.

Rachel Gilson: I do, but social media's disgusting. I have a website, but, yeah, you can get my book on Amazon or independent bookstores, things like that. Yeah. Born Again This Way.

Patrick Miller: Would you mind praying for our audience before we leave?

Rachel Gilson: Oh, I'd be delighted to pray. Thanks. Father, we come to you acknowledging that there's so much we don't know. We are bad at love. We are bad at patience. We are selfish. We need you desperately, especially in these hard conversations where we literally don't know what it means to actually navigate LGBT questions in a way that's both compassionate toward people and faithful to scripture. We need your spirit. I pray that you would give us the wisdom and grace to walk through these messy situations in a way that honors your people and that honors you. I pray especially for your disciples who experience same sex attraction, that they would be comforted by your love, that they would know that being hidden in Christ, your face towards them is full affection and not annoyance. I pray that you would give all of us the willingness to grow and the humility to learn, and I pray this in Christ's name. Amen.

Patrick Miller: Amen.

Keith Simon: Thanks for listening. If you found this podcast helpful, make sure to subscribe and leave a review.

Patrick Miller: And make sure it's at least five stars.

Keith Simon: Stop. No. Just be honest. Reviews help other people find us.

Patrick Miller: Okay. Okay. At the very least, you can share today's episode, maybe put it on your social, your favorite text chain.

Keith Simon: And if you didn't like this episode, awesome. Tell us why you disagree on Twitter, @ truthovertribe_. We might even share your thoughts in an upcoming newsletter.


What is it like to be a Christian who experiences same-sex attraction? Find out this week on Truth Over Tribe when Patrick sits down to talk with Rachel Gilson. Author of "Born This Way: Coming Out, Coming to Faith, and What Comes Next," Rachel gets personal with us about how she first realized she was sexually attracted to other women, how she became a Christian, and how she has struggled to reconcile those two realities. As we learn more about her, the conversation then opens up to gay identities and relationships in the Bible and the many layers of gender and sexuality. Tune in now!

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Today's Host

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Patrick Miller

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Keith Simon


Today's Guests

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Rachel Gilson