08 May What TrueLove.Is and Is Not
This article is written in response to an anonymous write-up posted on Medium.com.
Dear friends, I am Pastor Ian Toh from TrueLove.Is. I read this article about our recent TrueLove.is X Heartbeat Project Symposium with great interest, but also immense sadness. I truly appreciate what the writer posted. I have learnt much from reading his article. Even though we did not get a chance to meet that day, I hope to meet him one day. I believe it would be a good opportunity to learn more on how Truelove.is can be better. It would also be a good opportunity to dialogue on certain views he holds which are quite different from mine:
(a) The writer seems to hold the world-view that LGBTQ people within the church must be free to pursue same-sex relationships.
(b) The writer also seems to believe that this same-sex desire should to be celebrated by churches, and that for a church to be truly accepting of LGBTQ people, it must celebrate the pursuit of same-sex relationships.
I hope I have not misrepresented his views, which I have gleaned from his article.
These world-views may be held by many but it is not universal to all who have same-sex attraction. In my time working with Christians with same-sex attraction, I have learnt that they struggle with being told that there is only one way to deal with same-sex attraction. Sadly, we don’t hear much about them because their stories often aren’t told.
Many of these Christians with same-sex attraction feel that they have been marginalized by some members of the LGBTQ community and their allies because their worldview isn’t in agreement with the two established community narratives – that you’re born this way, and that you can’t change. Sadly, for the ones who have been bold enough to share their struggles, hate-filled responses to their personal stories reinforce their belief that it is not safe for them to come out to the pro-LGBTQ community after they’ve chosen a life of faith, in which they explore a life which confronts the established community narratives of being born this way and change not being possible.
The pain of this group is amplified in that they often still feel marginalized by the church as well. Some feel that their church is not a safe place for them to share their experiences and struggles, and as the writer has pointed out, they struggle with what they perceive to be the judgment of their fellow Christians.
It is for these reasons that TrueLove.Is ministry exists; to meet the needs of and provide a community for this precious group of people who may feel caught between two worlds.
(1) TrueLove.Is seeks to reach out to and encourage the many within the Church who struggle to reconcile their faith and their same-sex attraction. It is to provide a platform for them to know that they are not alone and it is not a sin to experience same-sex attraction. Straight or gay, all of us are sinners in need of forgiveness, love and grace. And, thankfully, a relationship with the Lord Jesus Christ allows us to receive these blessings!
(2) TrueLove.Is truly cares for these Christians, who are so very brave to share their stories of struggle. We have shared numerous, authentic stories of these brave Christian because we believe primarily in listening to them, not speaking at them, or merely talking with them. Indeed, many of the story-sharers came to us and voluntarily asked TrueLove.Is to tell their stories! Jason, Tamae and Vincent are some examples, just to name a few. Their stories have since blessed thousands worldwide.
(3) TrueLove.Is was set up for the larger Church to hear the stories of these story-sharers and grow to become a safer and more loving community. This, I admit, is not easy, as the church is made up of imperfect people like myself, all of whom are in desperate need of God’s forgiveness and love. We don’t always get it right, but we’re really trying because we really care.
TrueLove.Is is set up for the Church, by the Church.
What is TrueLove.Is not?
(1) TrueLove.Is does not seek to argue with anyone who believes that a LGBTQ person must be free to pursue a same-sex relationship or activities. It is the prerogative of each person to pursue what they believe is true.
(2) TrueLove.Is is not out to change anyone’s sexual orientation. However, we have not shied away from documenting such changes when they are the real experiences of some story-sharers, none of who have been coerced to change.
(3) TrueLove.Is does not assert that “straight” Christians are holier or have the moral high ground compared to those with same-sex attraction. We do not seek to condemn or alienate Christians who have such struggles; we want to provide opportunities for them to express their struggles in a safe environment and find care and support if needed.
The fact that TrueLove.Is does not focus on the sins which straight Christians struggle with is not a suggestion that straight Christians “occupy a higher moral ground and must lift gay people up to their level of morality” – we are painfully aware of the fact that all have sinned and fallen short of the glory of God. It is simply a function of the mission of TrueLove.Is, which is to reach out to people who are struggling and walk with them in their journey.
As I round off my thoughts in response to the writer’s article, I want to again express my appreciation to him:
I thank you for sharing your experience after the symposium. I have learnt much from reading your article. Thanks for not doubting that we have the best intentions for people with same-sex attraction. I believe the perspectives you shared will help inform how TrueLove.Is can better understand and serve those who struggle. We have reflected on your comments of shutting out criticism and will do better.
Thank you also for sharing how you felt when I told the story of my earliest experience with a church member who has same-sex attraction. (Yes, that was me). It was not meant to make fun of anyone. Making fun of someone with same-sex attraction would be totally against the ethos of TrueLove.Is. I was in fact, making fun of my own ignorance back then. I wanted to share the mistakes I made in the initial stage of reaching out people with same-sex attraction within the church. Speaking to them and being entrusted with the opportunity to journey with them has opened my eyes and really changed my approach towards them.
Regardless of my intention, I sincerely apologise for making you, any others in attendance, or anyone who has read your post feel alienated or ridiculed as a result of the symposium. For making you feel that you were viewed as a target of my insensitivity, not someone to be understood but something to be conquered, I sincerely ask for your forgiveness.
I’d really like the opportunity to have a conversation with you and get to know you better. So if you are open, I would like to invite you for coffee or a meal together. As there seems to be no way to reach you, if you are willing, please reach me at this email address: Hello@Truelove.is
We will continue to look to Jesus Christ to improve our expressions of love – Jesus is the ultimate model of it.
Pastor Ian Toh