Kirk Bennett

Kirk Bennett.jpg

I first came understand and question my sexuality when I was 22. Clearly, I was very deep in denial for much of my life. Early in my life, it was fine for other people to be LGBTQ+. I would love them the same, as Jesus calls us to do. However, I really wrestled with allowing myself to be gay and Christian because I knew the Bible well and the verses that condemned homosexuality. My faith is of utmost importance to me. To compromise or live a double life was not an option. I was in circles of people where "same-sex attraction" was a temptation or choice. I prayed fervently and even was "treated" by a "behavior modification therapist" to work it out of me. My journal from this period has multiple entries of me pleading with God to "take away these lustful thoughts" and "make me normal."

I am incredibly grateful to have known faith leaders and theologians who had more progressive thoughts on same-sex relationships with deep theological backing. I was deep in the pits of inner turmoil and these people brought me out into freedom. I grew to understand that God can also be glorified through same sex relationships and that this queer part of me is not something shameful, but just another piece of who God created me to be.

Resources that I found helpful along the journey were pastors who were affirming of same-sex relationships in the United Methodist Church and Matthew Vines' book, God and the Gay Christian.

I began dating this incredible guy I had known from school. Our relationship was so healthy and embodied everything I had hoped in displaying love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, self-control, and sacrifice. How could this relationship be displeasing to God? As I was wrestling through all of this, I was part of faith community with somewhat conservative views of the Bible and I was most worried about coming out to this community that had become my family. That night at my Small Group, as we were discussing how Jesus advocates for those discriminated against, I felt led to bring up LGBTQ+ discrimination in the Church and ultimately came out. I was terrified, but the first words I heard were "We love you. Nothing changes that." In the weeks following, this group of people began to surround me in love and support knowing that it was trying time. I never did get that support from the leadership and did not feel welcome to lead in the church or able to have a rich faith life there. Since then, I have found a church that is outwardly affirming and I have started a Faith and Sexuality Small Group with a lesbian friend. I am continuing to embrace the journey and continue to grow and further explore the depths of a multi-faceting God.