One more quote from Blue Like Jazz that I identified with:
Until this point, the majority of my friends had been Christians. In fact, nearly all of them had been Christians. I was amazed to find, outside the church, genuine affection being shared, affection that seemed, well, authentic in comparison to the sort of love I had known within the church. I was even more amazed when I realized I preferred, in fact, the company of the hippies to the company of Christians. It isn't that I didn't love my Christian friends or that they didn't love me, it was just that there was something different about my hippie friends; something, I don't know, more real, more true. I realize that is a provocative statement, but I only felt I could be myself around them, and I could not be myself with my Christian friends. My Christian communities had always had little unwritten social ethics like don't cuss and don't support Democrats and don't ask tough questions about the Bible.
Place "evangelical" in front of "Christian" and "church" and substitute "gay Christians" for "hippies," and this tracks pretty closely with my own experience. On the whole my gay Christian (and non-Christian) friends are considerably more open than my other Christian friends to listening to my doubts and questions without presuming which conclusions I'll reach if I'm truly saved.
To be fair I have several ex-gay and non-gay friends who are willing to love and support me as a person whether or not we agree on everything, but by and large I've learned that I still have to be very selective about who I open up to.
So when did it become okay for the church to be such an unsafe place? When did we become more concerned with rules and outward conformity than with loving people? I mean really loving them, not throwing scripture verses in their face and calling it "speaking the truth in love." When did driving people away from God become proof that we were following His will (since God's truth is a stumbling block and all that)?
I've heard it said that, by showing any acceptance for homosexuality, the Church would be losing its distinctiveness and becoming just like "the world." But if that's the only thing (or even the main thing) that separates us from "the world," then our faith must have been pretty shallow and indistinct to begin with.
The early church creeds give us a pretty good idea of what the essential beliefs of the Christian faith are. Not once is any mention made of sexual ethics. Does it matter what we do with our bodies? Absolutely. But to say that condemnation of all homosexual behavior is an essential Christian doctrine is to adopt a questionable set of priorities.
If one were to rank sins based on the emphasis placed on them in the Bible, idolatry, pride and economic injustice (among others) would come out well ahead of homosexuality. Yet the actions of many evangelicals suggest that battling the so-called "gay agenda" is more important than caring for the widows and orphans in their own neighborhoods.
And yes, all sin is sin in God's eyes. But that only exposes the hypocrisy that we engage in when we create our own little systems to rank which sinners are the worst. Perhaps if we focused more attention on our own sins, we'd find that we're better able to extend God's love to others and transform the church into the safe haven that it was meant to be.