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Bulletproof Faith - An interview with Candace Chellew-Hodge

For Gay and Lesbian Christians

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Bulletproof Faith by Candace Chellew-Hodge

Bulletproof Faith by Candace Chellew-Hodge

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Candace Chellew-Hodge is the author of Bulletproof Faith: A Spiritual Survival Guide for Gay and Lesbian Christians and associate pastor at Garden of Grace United Church of Christ in Columbia, South Carolina. She took a few moments to talk with Lesbian Life about Christianity and gays and lesbians.

What is bulletproof faith?

Bulletproof faith is a faith that is imperious to attack. Anyone can say what they want about your faith and you simply smile and say "Thank you for your opinion." There is no internal twinge when someone says, "I love the sinner, but I hate the sin."

How does one become bulletproof?

It takes years. A friend of mine who is a psychologist said that I was right on in the information that I give, to anyone, gay or straight, whenever they find themselves in a minority position. The book is for anybody who finds themself in a minority position. It’s a way to keep your own self-esteem high and live authentically in a position you feel called to be in.

It’s hard to be a gay or lesbian person and be a Christian, because you’re suddenly a minority within a minority. Even gay and lesbian people come to you and say, "Why do you want to be part of a club that doesn’t want you?" Well, I’m not trying to be in anybody’s club, I’m simply trying to have a relationship with God and all of these people keep telling me that I can’t.

I’m trying to show people that you can have a fulfilling and amazing relationship with God and be gay and lesbian at the same time. All it takes is the conviction of knowing that you are right with God and that is all that matters. The thing I don’t explore in the book is the arguments about the Bible. There are plenty of books that do that already.

I ask people in the book to stop arguing (about what the Bible says about homosexuality.) It’s not about that. It’s about us getting right with God. Your relationship with God is your relationship with God. It doesn’t matter what anyone else says about it.

If your relationship with God leads you to be a more loving, a more caring, a more compassionate, a more generous person then you have the right relationship with God.

If you say you have a relationship with God and you’re exclusive, abusive towards others, telling people that God hates them or you know the mind of God. That is not a right relationship with God. And that is what the religious right does to us continuously. They exclude, they abuse us, they try to pass laws against us. Who is being more Christ-like? At that point you can judge for yourself.

That brings up a good question. Why do you think so many Christians are opposed to homosexuality?

That’s a really deep question because it doesn’t have a simple answer. If you do away with misogyny, homophobia disappears. It’s about men dominating women. It’s about women being subservient. You never hear people talk about women that they’re concerned about, it’s gay men. Because gay men are seen as acting as women. It’s the feminization of the masculine that really gets under people’s skin.

I grew up in a Southern Baptist and they still won’t ordain women because the Bible says women are not allowed to teach a man.

What advice do you have for people who can’t reconcile their religion with being gay?

There are some folks who believe that having same-sex sex is against the Bible. There are some people who choose to stay in their religion and stay celibate. There are others who, like myself, I wanted a long-term relationship. I wanted to be fulfilled in that manner. It took a long time because I grew up Southern Baptist and as a Southern Baptist girl I knew that being gay was wrong. I did what a lot of people do. I actually walked away from God for years.

But when I came back (to an MCC Church) it felt like coming home. I literally cried, because there was someone in the pulpit who was saying God loves me. I’d never heard that before.

Is there a version of the Bible you recommend for gay and lesbian Christians?

I suggest that people read more than one version of the Bible. In seminary we were required to use the NRSV Study Bible, which is a good place to start. Keep in mind, however, it was the RSV in 1946 that first included the word "homosexual" - a politically motivated move in my opinion, since the word wasn't invented until 1896. Still, the NRSV is a good, easy to read, translation. I like The Message, because it's in contemporary voice, but I always try to compare the passages to an NRSV or NASB version of the Bible. The NASB is rather unwieldy to read, but it's full of footnotes and clarifications that make it well worth slogging through if you're really serious about your Bible reading.

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