In Praise of The Gay Pastor, Or A Giant Leap for Christiankind

Yes I begin lots of post with these disclaimers. Its because I strive to make this blog different, and so when I tackle the hot spot issues I don’t want you to read the same ole thing every other blog rants about.

This is not a post supporting gays in the church. The post is intentionally neutral on the subject, so rather than stating whether it is right or wrong or good/bad the post instead looks at the greater thing going on. I am not neutral on the subject, of course, but I want to make clear that this post is in no way choosing a side in the debate of homosexuals in the church.

Thank, well, someone it’s a reverse scandal. Another mega church pastor I’ve never heard of until now has come out as gay, and not because a scandal ripped away the curtain. Sans allegations, lawsuits or some other terrible way to have your deepest secrets revealed, Bishop Jim Swilley came out to his congregation a few Sunday mornings ago of his own volition. He leads Church In The Now, which meets east of the massive sprawl that is Atlanta.

Church In The Now's building, in Conyers, Georgia

He and his wife divorced earlier this year after 20+ years of marriage, and his ex-wife states she knew he was gay when they got married but hoped they’d work through it. They have four children together.

It’s a stunning story, one I admire. Jim, 52, says that his wife challenged him to come out, because though he was preaching be who you are he himself was “not being real.”

I applaud the conscious effort at more honesty in the church. One of the collective church’s biggest downfall has been striving toward perfection/holiness at the expense of honesty and transparency. For as much as we pick apart Hollywood culture for its vain superficiality we are totally concerned with our image and it being spotless. I cannot overstate how this tendency is counter productive for the church, and works against what God does in hearts.

Jim’s honesty will pull the church forward more than openly accepting homosexuals in the Christian community.

This pastor is bold and I hope that he inspires others to be honest with their community about who they are. We are often manipulative in our honesty, throwing out certain morsels that may actually distract from our true area of struggle, the classic throw a stick behind your back to divert attention.

But Jim’s confession cost him something, not just some followers and some scathing blog posts, but possibly his position and influence. Knowing this, he came out anyway.

Another thing I appreciate is that he admitted he is gay. Not WAS gay. Its very easy in Christian circles to only admit past sins, and not current things we’re dealing with. I’ll be honest, I don’t want to admit what I currently struggle with (and certainly not online, as something like that shouldn’t be published). You can of course pick Jim apart because he has no plans of repenting, but nonetheless his confession is a true one, and not simply showing a victory over something after the fact.


Do you agree that Jim’s honesty could pull the church forward? Regardless of your belief in the homosexuals in the church debate, what do you think of this story?

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7 Responses to In Praise of The Gay Pastor, Or A Giant Leap for Christiankind

  1. David says:

    Do you agree that Jim’s honesty could pull the church forward?
    Yes, in some ways; absolutely. Sin is sin – dishonesty is a sin, stealing is a sin, sex outside of marriage (man/woman) is sin – being gay is not a sin.

    I am glad that he has come to terms with who he is. Being real about who we really are; the good, the bad and the ugly is freeing. If we are not, we live in a prison that even Jesus cannot get into. Freedom is the place where Jesus can work in our lives. It is His job to bring us to the destiny that we have. It is His job to transform the church into a Bride without spot nor wrinkle.

    Paul had a thorn in his flesh that God did not heal. What mattered was his pursuit of God and personal holiness, and his ability to live the life of a redeemed Christian.

    Honesty always benefits the church – and sometimes it costs a lot. I am sure this is not easy for his wife or kids. The real test is in how he chooses to live his life from here on out.

    I think the church just needs to be real and call sin, sin. Instead we try to avoid issues, and hide behind false religion. That is what folks hate about the church whether they are in it, or not.

    • it seems like Jesus does tons of work behind the scenes simply luring us away from our self imposed prison. This can be the years leading up to a dramatic encounter with Jesus, where people begin to see that Jesus didn’t just now show up, but has been there all along.

      It will be interesting to see where the story goes from here, but to me it sounds like Jim is trying to handle it as gracefully as he can.

  2. bethegospel says:

    I think it could pull the church forward, yes. In what way though will it pull it? In a Kingdom-minded way? Probably not, no.

  3. Angela says:

    I think it’s best to honest and recognize who you are. Maybe some Christians might find it easier to swallow that people can be gay. it’s not a mistake or some kind of confusion – it’s real.

    • I think one of the problems is that Christians claim strongly that homosexuality is a conscious decision people are making, as if they know at all. They do this to try to take away any legitimacy homosexuals have, so that way they can condemn them. but I do think the church is growing up in this area, they are just taking their jolly sweet time like the 28 year old still living at home refusing to grow up.

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