This is what Matt says about himself in a paragraph:
“Matt Moore is a 25 year old writer who has spent the last few years engaging the culture in discussions about sexuality and faith. In 2010, Matt converted to Christianity from a lifestyle of homosexuality. He greatly desires, through his writing, to help the gay community see the world and themselves from a biblical perspective and to know the hope that is available to them in Christ. Matt lives in Shreveport, Louisiana and is currently an intern at a local Southern Baptist church.”
This is what he wants to say in a more personal, summary way:
- I’m actually a pretty boring person.
- I love Jesus.
- I love reading the Bible.
- I love listening to people who know more about the Bible than me.
- I like writing.
- I became a Christian in 2010.
- I used to be a personal trainer. But I told my clients to eat whatever they want. So…. wasn’t that good at it.
- I like to workout.
- I like to eat even more.
- I have one full blooded sibling.
- I’m writing a couple of books. It’s rough. Can I just keep blogging?
- I have a literary agent, Jessica Kirkland! Check out her blog.
- I think too much…. but it beats not thinking enough.
EASLEY: Matt Moore is a twenty five year old writer who spent the last few years engaging the culture in discussions about sexuality and faith. In 2010, Matt became a follower of Christ out of a lifestyle of homosexuality. In his writing he hopes to help not only the gay community, but others understand a Biblical perspective on what it means to follow Christ. He lives in New Orleans as part of a Church planting team. Matt says of himself, “I’m actually a pretty boring person. I love Jesus. I love to read the Bible. I love listening to people who know more about the Bible than me. I like writing. I like to work out. I like to eat even more.” Welcome to the program today, Matt Moore. Well, Matt,first of all thanks for being with us on InContext. I appreciate your time.
MOORE: Thank you for having me.
E: Tell us a little bit about your story. Reading up on you and reading your blog we’ll have on the website there. Folks can find out a little bit about your story. But I’d be interested to see how you’d like to tell it as opposed to how it’s told.
M: Well I’m twenty five years old. I’ve been living in New Orleans, Louisiana up until three days ago. I’m back home in Shreveport, La. I became a believer in 2010 when I was twenty one years old. I was in the middle of not merely a homosexual lifestyle, whatever that really means, a drunken lifestyle, promiscuous lifestyle, a really hopeless way of life. I had a couple of friends who had become believers over a period of that year in 2010 who continued to share the gospel with me and to love me and towards the end of the year I really came to the end of myself and realized that my life and my way of living my life was broken. I needed to be fixed. I didn’t use this language then, but I needed to be redeemed. I needed to be made whole and so I began pursuing this God that my friends had turned to and then within a couple of months I really understood the Gospel of Christ and I became a believer. From that point forward I just started to write some and started elaborating on my experiences because I feel like it’s a need in our culture and even in the church. That’s a long story very very short.
E: One of your articles that I thought was fascinating was I Love Jesus Too Much to Call Myself a Gay Christian.
E: Written I guess October of 14. Interesting you would go there because you’ve got Matthew Vines. You’ve got a number of folks who are out quite prominently talking about “why I’m a gay Christian.” Is it a defensiveness?Is it a rights orientation? And then how you approached it in your blog, basically with two points, you said you hate sin. That’s pretty strident Matt. Just come out and say, “I’m not going to be called a gay Christian because I hate sin.” Explain a little bit to us. (laughter)
M: I know. (laughter) Well, that wasn’t really even geared towards people like Matthew Vine. I was gearing that experience that thought in my mind, the image of the gay Christian in my mind, where different people that I know of like Wesley Hill, or Julie Rodgers, who are repentant and celibate Christians who struggle with same sex attraction. They’re orthodox in their beliefs but in their terminology they choose to call themselves gay still and are pretty adamant about that, and about how it’s ok, and about how the church should embrace this worldly terminology, and how people who struggle with homosexual temptations should embrace this gay identity. Which I just feel just flies in the face of Scriptural teaching; It flies in the face of believers identity in Christ, and no longer in the world, and no longer in sin, but in Christ alone. I feel although they would find that using that word to describe themselves would put them level with the world in order that they would engage them better. I felt actually the opposite of that because you’re communicating to the gay community and to the unbelieving world that you still find so much of who you are in your flesh and in your fallen sinful inclinations rather than in Christ. That’s why I said, “I hate sin” because really that’s what it is. These people who call themselves “gay Christian” although they’re orthodox supposedly in their beliefs, they’re really dumbing down the evil of sin and the heinessess of sin and making it feel and sound better than what it actually is.
E: Well let me ask you because I was talking to Rosario Butterfield about this not long ago and asked her, I said, “Rosario, if we approach it this way then I should lead with I’m a womanizer. You need to accept that. I made a commitment to my wife almost thirty five years ago and in God’s kindness have not broken that commitment that I would use the Spirit’s control and self control to avoid getting in trouble so I’m committed to one woman the rest of my life. So if I say, “ I’m a womanizer,” I lead with that. That doesn’t play very well. I dont want to say I’m a pedophile, or I’m a homosexual, or I’m transgender, whatever. Why is there and maybe it’s an unfair question, but why do you think there’s such a desire to hang on to the identity piece?
M: Honestly, and they would take offense to this, but I believe it’s pride. I believe they find some satisfaction in comfort, and pride in identifying as gay. I don’t know if that is an overreaction to having to suppress and hide that part of themselves for so much of their lives that now they have come out, they’re unwilling to relinquish that terminology to describe themselves, because it’s who they are, it’s who they’ve always been. They’re going to be honest with that no matter what. I think some anger may fuel that, anger of being misunderstood by the world and by the church. In Christian communities, people who choose to use the term gay to describe themselves, I feel like the motives are pretty similar to why the world would use those terminologies to describe themselves and pride.
E: It seems to come back to that a lot. You went on in that article to say, “I don’t believe calling myself a gay Christian will help my endeavor to communicate a gospel that transforms identity” and that’s what my question is exactly and your answer to that is where does Matt’s identity come from?
M: Right. Where does my identity come from and what part of who I am do I find valuable? Do I find my born again, grace fraught nature in Christ, as the part of me that now I find my identity in this? Or do I still find my identity and view myself according to my fallen and natural nature? I feel like when you say gay Christian, well you’re communicating to the world, “Yes, you love who God has made you to be in Christ and that’s how you identify yourself and you’re thankful for it.” But at the same time you’re still holding on to the fallen natural inclinations that God hates and that Christ died for. Still, it’s just very contradictory and confusing to the world for somebody to communicate themselves that way.
E: You also posted a blog end of last year, I Kissed a Girl and I Liked It.
E: That one had to stir up some social media activity.
M: It did. That’s why I titled it that way. It kind of softens it a little bit. I’m not sure that was a good decision or not in retrospect.It is what it is. (laughter) I basically at the end of last year in October met a girl in Louisiana through some friends in church. They were trying to matchmake me with but I was not interested in it initially and neither was she, but we somehow continued to communicate which lead to us hanging out and the more that we hung out the more I was shocked at how much I liked her and how much I was drawn to her. So I felt like previously in my writing that I strongly communicated that I believe that there would be no sort of shift in my sexuality and that I would be solely attracted to men for the entirety of my existence and this fallen flash and I would choose to honor Christ by living in light of that. So I felt it was important to be approved it by her before I wrote the blog, just to reveal I do not know it all that the Lord is going to do in me. I don’t know to what degree my sexuality will be sanctified, but you know I encountered this relationship with this girl that really surprised me and took me off guard.
E: Of course there are all kinds of opinions on Reparative or sometimes Conversion Therapy if you saw the movie on Turning. That was of course the secondary messages of his story. The Imitation Game as far as historically attempts to change a person’s “orientation.” On one level it would be, well your identity in Christ is what He intended it to be. I’m less of a womanizer than I was, hopefully, when I was single. I have been committed to my wife for thirty four years. Is that a non secular argument to make, that it doesn’t change or couldn’t change?
M: I believe all that we are as human beings can change the more that we behold the glory of Christ and are transformed more and more into His image. I don’t know that I would be pro Reparative Therapy specifically, because I don’t know that change and sexuality and any part of our being comes through specific therapeutic exercises. I think it comes through having an increased revelation of the gospel and who we are in Christ and being closer to Him. I know that the shift in my sexuality, I know there’s not been a radical shift but there has been some shift. It hasn’t been a result of seeking out counsel. I know that’s not a bad thing, but it hasn’t been as a result of seeking out counseling, or therapeutic exercises, or trying to figure out what happened in my childhood to make me this way. It wasn’t bad. It was daily reading of Scripture and daily prayer and daily seeking to see the face of Christ and then just being changed in light of that. It’s kind of mysterious and I can’t really explain the mechanics of it.
E: How much does community play into that for you?
M: It has been massive for me. I really underplayed the importance of community until I moved to New Orleans and was a part of the Church planting team. I moved in 2012 and became incredibly tight knit with this group of ten people. I grew more in those two years, just ingrained into this tight knit gospel exalting Christ loving community than I ever would have remaining to be like a church attender basically like there was before. So I would view community as vital.
E: Let me do a little word association with you and we can come back and expand on them as you like: tolerance.
M: Tolerance. I believe that true tolerance would be, to be able to respectfully disagree with people who have totally different worldviews and perspectives, including sexuality. And by respectfully disagree, I mean to be able to disagree without saying that the opposing party hates you. I would say the new definition of tolerance, which is not true tolerance would be in order for you to be a tolerant person you need to not only agree with a certain world view or perspective, but you need to support an advocate for that world view and that perspective.
E: Our fallen context. How would you respond to our fallen context?
M: I would say our fallen context would be the world and us as human beings are not what we were created to be. We were created to be good. We were very good before the fall and now since the fall, we have a fallen nature that we have inherited from Adam and Eve and because of that our desires, and our feelings, and our inclinations are all messed up and are directed more toward evil than they are toward good. Now that doesn’t mean we are as bad as what we could be. There are still remnants of God’s character and image reflected in us, but in totality we are stained by sin, and because of that every part of who we are is inclined towards brokenness and towards sinful self destruction.
E: We’ve talked about identity quite a bit already, but just curious how would you define identity?
M: I would say identity would be an awareness or a consciousness of what or who you most truly are. I’ve never been asked that before.
E: When you think of our sin nature in a fallen context and we’ve talked about that a bit. Our identity, who we identify ourselves with because we’re corrupt and in our fallen nature. It’s you know looking through muddy glass. It’s confusing and so much of the same sex attraction or even heterosexual exploitation of one another, Fifty Shades of Grey being a good example of objectifying sex and adding in all sorts of perversion to make it more normative. So we’re starting to change our way we look at ourselves: “That’s how I was made. That’s who I am. That’s my identity.” All of us as sinners have an identity baseline, but we don’t understand that. You mentioned your lifestyle before Christ. Something changed in Matt’s heart, and mind, and thinking that said, “Look that’s not who I am.”
M: Yeah, and I think that prior to knowing Christ, I viewed myself and my identity as being good. I viewed myself as not being sinful really. I mean not being perfect, but mostly good. Then when I came to Christ, He humbled me and showed me that I’m not good apart from Him and His grace, I’m evil. Seeing what my identity was apart from Christ really changed my perspective on things like my same sex attractions. Before Christ, I couldn’t understand how am I a good person? How can these feelings that I just naturally have for love, I mean that’s how I viewed it, be wrong, and be evil and be vile and be an abomination? It makes no sense to me but when I understood who I really was in my natural state as a broken fallen, sinful sinner, it clicked. It made sense to me, “Oh well, if I’m really as bad off in my natural state as the Bible says that I am, it makes sense that I would naturally have these feelings that they’re wrong.”
E: When you talk to folks who have same sex attraction that self identify as gay, as lesbian, as transgender, whatever, what are the themes if that’s not an unfair word to use? What are the common responses you hear from them about why they would identify themselves that way?
M: I mean really what I just said, and it’s the same thing that I used to say. “I’m a good person and I only desire to love and these desires that I have are not bad. They can’t possibly be bad. They’re not hurting anybody. This is who God made me to be. He made me gay, just like He made that Joe Smith straight, He made me gay.” So they just don’t view themselves as being broken, number 1. So then they don’t view their same sex attraction as being anything remotely bad.
E: So how do you talk to them? You’ve got a friend who’s same sex attraction; you’ve gotten to know him; you’re chatting over coffee and he’s open to discussion. How do you start parsing this conversation?
M: I would start honestly, I think when you’re talking to somebody that is gay and identifies as gay; and holds tight to that and they’re unrepentant; they’re not a believer, I think the worst thing you can do is try to convince them that their sexuality is bad or harmful to themselves or anything like that. I honestly think the worst thing you can do is even focus on sexuality because they have totally convinced themselves that their sexuality is good and the whole world tells them that. I think you need to go a step further and try to help them see that their heart apart from sexuality in ways of hatred or greed or selfishness. I mean anything like that and try to help them to see, “Hey, we really are messed up.” I feel like that’s the first thing they need to believe before they’re going to believe anything that we believe or the Bible says about homosexual behaviour. They need to first believe at the very core beyond their sexuality, that they are broken people. So that’s how I would start.
E: On your Wednesday, February 18th blog, you took a pretty strong stand. “Christians stop saying “Being gay is a choice,” and you tell a rather intimate conversation with your grandparents who have a view that perhaps exemplifies a percentage of the Christian community, which says, “That was your choice.” Tell us a little bit about that conversation and how you responded.
M: Well, we were discussing other family members in my family who really embraced me before I was a believer and I had come out as gay and really affirmed that behaviour and that lifestyle choice. My grandfather was telling me, “Even back then before you knew Jesus, I would tell them, “God did not make Matt gay. It is his choice.” I immediately began to respond. Not harshly or in anger but as I began to speak my grandmother could tell that I was disagreeing with what he was saying. My grandmother said, “Well Matt, what are you saying? It’s a choice. It is a choice. Didn’t you choose to be gay before you knew Jesus? Now you choose not to be.” So I began to explain to them when they say, “Being gay” regardless of what they mean in their minds, what that communicates to every single gay person or unbeliever is that you’re saying that their experience of us feeling these desires. That’s what they think of when they hear, “Being gay” is the experience of feeling desires for the same sex. You’re saying that “That’s a choice.” They were like, “Oh no. We all have different weaknesses. We’re all fallen people and we have sinful desires that we don’t choose. They’re choosing to act out those desires.” “Precisely, I totally agree.” When I came out as gay, I chose to embrace these sinful desires but I did not choose to feel, but I chose to embrace them and act out on them. It’s really important that if that’s what you’re meaning when you’re saying, somebody ‘made a choice to be gay,’ you need to say it like that. You need to say they’re choosing to embrace their sinful inclinations, rather than turning away from them and trusting the gospel. So it was a really good and fruitful conversation. I knew before I even got into the conversation with them, that I knew they believed what I believed. I knew we were on the same page theologically and Biblically, but just the way that I would articulate that vs the way they would articulate that is completely different.
E: You know it’s interesting reading your blog on that because in the churches that I’ve served, I would say there may be a percentage of folks that would hold that view and I want to be careful to not generalize the church or to vilify it, but I would find in the last ten plus years, maybe fifteen years, it’s more of an embracing of the idea that that person’s made that way. They’re born gay; that is their identity; they’re not hurting others; they’re loving; you shouldn’t be judgmental; you shouldn’t be intolerant. That’s more of the, especially thirty something mindset towards homosexuality, same sex attraction, and so forth and kind of beating up on this strongman Church that is intolerant and unloving and so forth and so on.
M: I would agree and that’s how the majority of my family even currently views it. They actually, I think embraced and supported me more when I was an unbeliever than they do now as a repentant believer, although they go to church. They are moral people, but they are not very supportive of the choices that I make, that I make daily as a believer and so that’s definitely true. I think that they far more outnumber the people like my grandparents who would say, “Well being gay’s a choice” and so I would definitely agree with that.
E: You’ve been involved with a Church plant and some pastors are probably going to listen to this podcast and download it. What would you say to them? Ok, you’ve got an audience out there. I always look at audiences as a bell curve you know, you got the extreme, really convinced, already those you’ll never convince, all points of gradation in between. So you’re speaking to a large audience for that element that is saying, “Wow, they’re not mean people; they’re loving people; they were born that way; that’s their identity; they’re good; can’t you just accept them and tolerate them and not speak hateful language to them? What would you say to that segment of this body?
M: Yeah, I would say to be truthful is, that’s to be loving, it’s not to be hateful. If what we believe as Orthodox Christians regarding sexuality and what is sin, and what is not sin, and what the Christian life looks like, If what we believe is actually true regardless of how we feel about it or anybody else feels about it, the most loving thing to do would be to reveal that truth and communicate that truth to everyone who it applies to, which is everyone. So I mean to comfort somebody in their sin and to call that not judging them and to reassure somebody that they know the Lord while they’re embracing a lifestyle of sin, it’s really the most hateful thing that you could do. I know that the world will not say that, that the world will continually call speaking the truth hateful, no matter how gently you do it. But at the end of the day, the most hateful thing you could do is to comfort somebody in sin and reassure them of their place in Christ while they’re in sin. It’s a massive need in the church for people to… I’m not saying that they do not understand homosexualtiy, because I feel like there’s not a whole lot to understand. It is sinful, sexual immorality and it needs to be turned away from just like everything else needs to be turned away from that is sinful.
E: We’ve been talking to Matt Moore. You can find out more about him at Moorematt.org where he writes a blog every so often. Also you’ll find him on Christian posts and other publications. Matt, it’s been great to have you on inContext.
M: Thank you for having me.
E: Thanks for listening to Michael Easley inContext.