All I could hear was the deep breathing and occasional snore of the students asleep in the back of the van. As a youth pastor I was taking high school students from New England to visit North Park College. The young man in the passenger seat next to me, the only other person awake in the vehicle, asked me in level tones just audible over the radio, “Does Jesus really love homosexuals?” I was just glad to have him talking, helping me stay awake until we reached the hard comfort of a floor in the Covenant church in Youngstown, Ohio. I paused to think before responding. “Yes.” I spoke slowly. “I think he has to, because he loves everybody just as they are, without changing anything. I mean that’s basic Christian stuff.”
Frankly, I didn’t want to say any more than that, because I was afraid he might take my words home to his parents and I could get in trouble. I ignored the obvious questions: “Then why does our church call homosexuality a sin?” “Why does no one ever talk about homosexuals at church?” “Why do Christians condemn homosexuals?” I just let it ride. For several moments we heard only the periodic thump of the wheels over the uneven asphalt sections of the Pennsylvania Turnpike. “Oh,” he said, “I just wondered.”
Had I been a better youth pastor, I would have asked him some open ended question that would have helped him understand his wondering, but I didn’t. He sensed my fear and stopped talking.
Ten years after the van conversation I had moved to a new church and the questioning young man drove two and a half hours to have lunch with me. I was glad to see him and relive memories of our times together. But there was an urgency about him and over our greasy pepperoni pie he told me he that he was gay and had come out to his family. Our eyes were full and his anxiety palpable. He said, “I came here to thank you for saving my life.” I said, “I didn’t save your life, you did.” “No,” he said, “There was more than one time when I really wanted to take my own life, but I remembered what you said ‘Jesus loves homosexuals… just the way they are.’ These words saved me. So… thanks.” Continue reading Denny Moon: “Saved”