J.S. Park

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The Love of God Vs. The Law of God
J.S. Park

Hello beloved wonderful friends!

This is the second part of new sermon series called “Why You Christian?”  It explores the question of why anyone would ever want to be a Christian.

This message is titled: The Love of God Vs. The Law of God.

It’s about our natural resistance to rules and laws, and why a loving God would ever make them. 

Stream above or download here!

 

Some things I talk about are: The Eastern Asian Honor Values vs. the Western American Free Spirit and how they play out during tsunamis and hurricanes, those Jackie Chan buddy-cop movies, how we treat God as either a cool grandfather or a Japanese Yakuza gangster, what to do when a child holds up a fork in a thunderstorm trying to be Benjamin Franklin, and what we want God to say about sex, money, and forgiveness.

Be blessed and love y’all!

— J

In line with your most recent post (or answered question), what would you recommend for those who do their devotions but couldn't understand the metaphors used by Jesus? I usually look up the interpretations online and go from there but I was wondering if there's a better way to go about it. Thank you for your help!

Hey there dear friend, I believe you’re referring to this post.

One book I highly recommend is Henrietta Mears’ What The Bible Is All About.  It’s a very simple commentary with pictures (woo!) and practical explanations of every book in the Bible.  It’s not too specific on any one book, but gives just enough context to help us think through Scripture for ourselves. 

The wider we read, the more we’ll start fitting the pieces too.  I’ve probably read tons of Timothy Keller and C.S. Lewis, and they’ve helped formed my theology just enough to get a foothold in Jesus’s words.  While I don’t mean to make it only a matter of intellect, it does help to read broadly.  That means both diving into Systematic Theology by Wayne Grudem or something light like Max Lucado.

I would also recommend a good huge Study Bible.  My personal favorite is the very classic Zondervan 1984 NIV Study Bible.  The best thing is to browse a few Study Bibles at a bookstore and see which you like.  I’ve seen some friends also like the Life Application and Quest Study Bibles.

May I add: Jesus did say some pretty tough things to figure out.  Scholars still dissect the particulars to this day.  If these really smart people are struggling with them, then a simple-minded person like me will too, and that’s okay.  I think there are probably very simple meanings to all of Jesus’s metaphors, and it would be best to receive the most obvious meaning, then apply it.  I’m sure there’s an infinite amount of wisdom we can receive from every parable, but they can also be easy enough for the five-year-old to understand.  So we want to look into them and always remain curious, but also don’t worry too much if you wrestle with them a bit too.  We can enjoy that process of lifelong discovery.

— J

I'm curious about your view that reformed Calvinists overemphasize predestination. How have you seen this happen and what do you mean by it?

Hey my friend, I believe you’re referring to this post.

I think any kind of of overemphasis on a single doctrine creates an unintended lopsided thinking, which is really no one’s fault except human nature.  Reformed Calvinists (of which I am one) tend to pump up so many specific doctrines that they look like those guys at the gym who only work out their upper body, like if you put the Hulk’s chest on top of Hawkeye’s legs.  It’s ugly.

See: the idea of young Christians being careful about dating is a wise plan — but taking that to an extreme leads to all kinds of weird neurotic Christian dating bubble-cultures.  The same is true if you beat the hobbyhorse of tithing, spiritual gifts, politics, or the Christian version of things.

Of course, many of these doctrines begin with noble intentions and pure motives.  Most Christians don’t twirl their evil hipster mustaches in a basement hoping to bank off their nervous paranoid church people.  But like anything, the escalation of an idea creates offshoot branches that are far removed from their original intent. 

So when Joshua Harris (who is a pretty good guy) writes a few books on dating, some extremists will take that to a really goofy level and sort of massacre Harris’s work, and then you have liberal Christians pointing fingers at Harris like it was his fault.  He set out to do a good thing, but bad subcultures always spring up from good ideas like a cyst.

 

But in the case of Reformed Calvinists, it seems like almost the entire camp is deadset on being a bunch of gatekeeping watchdog bullies.  I wrote an angry rant a while ago about why I don’t ever want to be labeled a Reformed Calvinist again (though in theology, I remain one).  I’ve just never met a single decent Calvinist, and when I did, I couldn’t even tell they were Calvinist. 

Predestination is one of those tricky doctrines that can lead to total arrogance or total anxiety or strange readings of Scripture.  It’s either 1) I’m the chosen one, 2) I don’t know if I’m chosen, or 3) God hates some people and loves others.  But we forget that predestination AND free will are given nearly equal treatment throughout the Bible, sometimes even within the same exact verse (2 Thessalonians 2:13 and the entire book of Ephesians).  They’re both completely reconciled somehow, and if you ask me to explain it, then my head would have to be the size of the universe.  My brain is allergic to paradoxes, so I won’t even try.

Once again, If your faith is making you a jerk, then throw that out the window and start over.  There are certain Christian doctrines that will inevitably be offensive to some people, but I see Christians go out of their way to be offensive.  I’m guilty of it too.  So I hope we can keep all these doctrines in proper perspective, and maybe even look to how Jesus managed to hold them all together: which was Love the Lord and love your neighbor.

— J

The bible says faith is the assurance of things not seen. Is it then bad to try to justify my faith through rational reasoning?

Hey my dear friend, it’s definitely not bad at all — and I would in fact highly urge you to dig deeply into your faith until your teeth sink into conviction.  There is plenty of historical evidence and plausible explanations when it comes to Scripture and the God of the Bible.

My major concern is that most people think only intellect can answer the claims of Christianity, when people themselves are not merely intellectual beings.  We’re all a complex mix of emotional, psychological, and spiritual factors that need a well-rounded foundation to satisfy us. 

This is why academic answers hardly ever convince an atheist into faith. No one has ever said, “You totally proved my atheism wrong, now tell me about Jesus.”  We still need to answer the existential reasons of why we’re alive.  When I was an atheist, I didn’t care about the factual stuff — it was all garbage to me anyway.  I had to get past my own personal bias to God before I could even look at the evidence.

Someone who only believes through intellect can also become an arrogant egotistical doctrine-head (1 Corinthians 8:1), and then bam, you become one of those mean Reformed Calvinists.  I had to stop calling myself one because most of us were jerks and bullies, and the movement pretty much killed itself from ego.  I’m all for learning as much as you possibly can, but if you’re waiting around with arms crossed until you’re convinced all the time, you’ll entangle yourself into all kinds of silly theological conflicts that no one actually cares about.  God help us on that.

Please allow me to point you to two posts here that explain how I moved out of atheism, which simply became too untenable, and why unlike anything else, the journey of faith is a lifelong discovery that will never quite finish to the very end — and that’s okay.

- Why Do You Believe In Jesus?

- You’re a “Skeptical Christian”?

 

There are also quite a few verses that tell us to investigate the claims of truth.  In other words, God does want you to think for yourself.

And please remember: Have fun getting to know Him.  He’s awesome.  He’s satisfying.  He is knowable.  He will love you through the questions.

Now the Berean Jews were of more noble character than those in Thessalonica, for they received the message with great eagerness and examined the Scriptures every day to see if what Paul said was true.

— Acts 17:11

Examine yourselves to see whether you are in the faith …

— 2 Corinthians 13:5

The discerning heart seeks knowledge, but the mouth of a fool feeds on folly.

— Proverbs 15:14

Desire without knowledge is not good— how much more will hasty feet miss the way!

— Proverbs 19:2

Dear friends, do not believe every spirit, but test the spirits to see whether they are from God, because many false prophets have gone out into the world.

— 1 John 4:1

— J.S.

Apr 1

Why Don’t You Cite Bible Verses?

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Anonymous asked:

How come you don’t cite bible verses? I could easily believe you’re a farse

 

You’re absolutely right.  I could easily believe I’m false too.

So here’s what we do.  Don’t trust me, because I will let you down.  Please don’t take anything I say at face value.  Please don’t let me spoon-feed you. Please use heavy discernment in anything I’ve written, and that goes for every book and blog you read.  Please disagree with me.  Do not have a soft ear.  Go seek in Scripture to make sure that everything I’m saying is lining up with God’s wisdom, like the Bereans did.  Don’t trust any flashy, snarky, witty, articulate blogger with all the likes and reblogs (and especially not if they’re after your money). 

Please go into deep reflection, meditation, and prayer by the guidance of God’s Spirit and His Word to arrive at your own conviction.  Don’t be a jerk about those convictions.  Double-check with wise mentors and your pastor and thousands of years of church history to see what they say.  Check other interpretations and ask around. But don’t trust them completely either.  Trust Him alone.

The thing is: Even if I referenced a billion Bible verses in everything I wrote, that doesn’t make me more truthful.  Text-proofing has led to some horrible atrocities.  Like Francis Chan said: "You can justify just about anything with this book …You’ll find some verse and twist it even though that’s not the natural reading of the Scriptures … We don’t really want to do what this book says. We want to use it to justify what we want.”

 

Let’s take this a step further.  A ton of Christian blogs say things like, “Jesus is rooting for you and cheering for you and he loves you and his mind is made up about you.”  And I agree with this sentiment.  I’ve written those things too.  But there isn’t one time where Jesus actually says those words out loud.  He was never that mushy.  Most Christian bloggers skip all the hard stuff that Jesus said.  It’s not wise to fool ourselves into think Jesus was a smiley therapist saying “You’re so treasured” all the time.  Yet at the same time, the entire story arc of the Bible is woven into an approximation of the heart of God — and in fact, we find that God is actually rooting for us.  

So while it’s not safe to to keep harping on this one angle, I believe that weaving thematic elements from the whole Bible is more biblical than stringing together a bunch of random verses.  All the great theologians like Calvin, Spurgeon, Lewis, and Keller did the same thing — and they’re just human too. 

We’re called to think for ourselves, to think through to the very bottom of what we believe, to get alone with Scripture in the purest way possible.  At the same time: bloggers like me and all of church history can be an aid to your journey.  We’re each biased to our own prejudices, so we need other voices.  And if mine is not working for you, then by all means, I encourage you to pick it apart or criticize or unfollow — and there’s a way to be gracious about that too.

I’m sure you’re just looking out for me.  You want to make sure I’m not just coming up with this stuff on my own.  So I appreciate that.  I will check myself on this.  I graciously accept your challenge.  Let’s be challenged together.

— J.S.

I was thinking about your post about not believing everything a pastor or person with a microphone says concerning God's word. Instead to measure it against God's word. You know who's words we can trust? Christ's. Everything He said was/is true.

Hey there my dear friend, I believe you’re talking about this post and this quote.

Right on.  I think the hard part is in our many different interpretations of Scripture.  Since we’re all just human beings with squishy three lb. brains, we’ll inevitably get some part of God’s Word wrong.  As I’ve said, I’m sure we’ll all look back in Heaven and laugh at the ways we messed up the Bible. 

But then there are just so many obvious things in Scripture that we can’t get wrong by reading them.  Imagine in Heaven, “So by loving people and making disciples of all nations, you meant … oh.  Just that.”

And I think in our celebrity-idolizing culture, we give so much more weight to famous pastors and authors, to an unhealthy degree.  I’ve seen two pastors say the exact same thing in a sermon, but because one is more famous, everyone will go crazy over the big preacher and sort of gloss over the other one.  I can almost guarantee that if someone posted a fake quote by Tim Keller or Francis Chan or C.S. Lewis (as opposed to a real quote by nameless local pastor), it would get way more hits just because of the name instead of the content.

I remember too when Rob Bell’s book Love Wins came out, and some Christian bookstores were inserting a piece of paper with a “warning” to have discernment.  I wondered: Isn’t it wise to discern everything that we read and hear?  Shouldn’t every single Christian book and sermon and CD come with that same warning?

I’ll leave with a few of the verses I quoted in the earlier post.  Thank you again for your constant encouragement too!

— J

"Stop trusting in mere humans, who have but a breath in their nostrils. Why hold them in esteem?"
– Isaiah 2:22

“Dear friends, do not believe every spirit, but test the spirits to see whether they are from God, because many false prophets have gone out into the world.”
– 1 John 4:1

“The law of the Lord is perfect,
refreshing the soul.
The statutes of the Lord are trustworthy,
making wise the simple.
The precepts of the Lord are right,
giving joy to the heart.
The commands of the Lord are radiant,
giving light to the eyes.”
– Psalm 19:7-8

I know your deeds, your hard work and your perseverance. I know that you cannot tolerate wicked people, that you have tested those who claim to be apostles but are not, and have found them false. You have persevered and have endured hardships for my name, and have not grown weary.



Yet I hold this against you: You have forsaken the love you had at first. Consider how far you have fallen! Repent and do the things you did at first. If you do not repent, I will come to you and remove your lampstand from its place. But you have this in your favor: You hate the practices of the Nicolaitans, which I also hate. Whoever has ears, let them hear what the Spirit says to the churches. To the one who is victorious, I will give the right to eat from the tree of life, which is in the paradise of God.

- Revelation 2:2-7

Hey pastor park, thank you soo much for all the work you have done on your blog. It has helped me sooooo much with my faith. Especially me coming back to my faith. Hey i just got a quick question, how does God see the sins we have committed after we have put our faith in person and work of Jesus? Thank you for your time in advance :)

Hey there my friend, thank you so much for your encouragement.

Here are a few verses about how God considers our sin after we embrace Christ. 

…In your love you kept me from the pit of destruction; you have put all my sins behind your back.

— Isaiah 38:17

 

… As far as the east is from the west, so far has he removed our transgressions from us.

— Psalm 103:12

 

You will again have compassion on us; you will tread our sins underfoot and hurl all our iniquities into the depths of the sea.

— Micah 7:19

 

For I will forgive their wickedness and will remember their sins no more.

— Hebrews 8:12

And if you want to know what God is doing now, check out Romans 8:34.  That’s Jesus, totally rooting for you.

— J

I’m not saying that I have this all together, that I have it made. But I am well on my way, reaching out for Christ, who has so wondrously reached out for me.



Friends, don’t get me wrong: By no means do I count myself an expert in all of this, but I’ve got my eye on the goal, where God is beckoning us onward—to Jesus. I’m off and running, and I’m not turning back.

- Philippians 3:12-14, The Message

Why Do You Believe In Jesus?

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Anonymous asked:

Why do you believe in Jesus? I get believing in a creator, but as much as I want to, I can’t always convince myself that there’s evidence for Jesus doing all that stuff, and it breaks my heart because i used to believe it without a problem. I don’t know what to do.

 

Hey dear friend. If you didn’t know, I’m mostly a skeptical Christian, so you might be asking the wrong person.

There are times when I’m really into apologetics, and other times when I just don’t care about apologetics at all. As a wise pastor once said, knowledge is essential but it is not sufficient.

So as much as I can muster with my weak faith, I believe in Jesus for historical, emotional, existential, and intellectual reasons that far outweigh any other system of belief. There is just enough evidence for Christ that each day, I must conclusively doubt my doubts. It’s tough most days, but it’s often enough.

Let’s consider a few things together, and ultimately you can decide to clamp down upon the meat.

 

- Something in the first century made the Jews just go nuts.

The Jewish-Israelite people were dead-set on never ever worshiping another god, ever. It was their first law from God: and even when Caesar claimed divinity or these other “messiahs” came around claiming to be the savior, the Jews never budged. The Romans had constrained the Jewish people by outlawing most religious places unless they were called “schools,” and the Romans threw down all their gods and cultural excess on the Jews, but still: the Jews remained slavishly devoted to Yahweh and never bowing down to any idols, to much social derision and lowered status.

But an event happened where suddenly, the Jewish people had changed their day of worship from Saturday to Sunday. They were claiming the Christ had come and risen. In the eyes of many Jews, this would’ve been downright blasphemous: but whole hordes of Jews were now convinced that Jesus was God. It was such an intense explosive shift that Rome never recovered, and only decades later Christianity became the mainstream faith of the nation.

Something happened two-thousand years ego that history must account for. I know this by itself is not incontrovertible evidence that Jesus did what he did. But scholars are still confounded by this rapid series of events that essentially upturned both the Jewish people and the Roman nation. Once-devout Jews were being lit up and impaled by Nero, being mauled by lions and torn limb-from-limb, families killed and stoned, all to stand for Christ.

What the heck happened then? Did the Jews just lose their dang minds? Maybe. But every historical account that tries to explain all this away ends up piling on more doubt to their own theories. Really the simplest explanation here by way of Occam’s Razor is that Jesus is who he said he was and he did what he said he would.

So Christianity is uniquely alone in that it does NOT claim to be built primarily on teachings, but on a historical event that ripped through a nation. No one wanted Christianity to be true, most in particular the disciples, who all fled. But they turned back because they simply couldn’t deny Jesus had risen. They had seen him. It was the key event that validated all of Jesus’s ministry: not his miracles or teachings or death, but walking out of that grave. Ultimately, over and over, despite my incredulity, I find this to be the most rational explanation for the Jews going nuts. You’d have to make a very convoluted difficult case to explain it any other way.

 

- Jesus’s death and resurrection built an iconoclastic world-upheaving truth that is upheld by the counterintuitive element of grace.

Jesus is existentially satisfying because he accurately describes the human condition and provides the solution. Every other system of belief is built on performance, maintenance, reward/punishment, dichotomous banner-waving division, moralism, superiority, self-improvement, and self-isolated relativism. Jesus destroys all these categories and provides a way above all ways that I have absolutely NOT found in any other system of thinking.

He speaks to my desperate need for self-justification. All day long, I’m justifying myself to prove I’m worthy. I am making myself better than others and comparing my weakness to someone who is weaker than me. I am in a moral race that causes me to laugh at a celebrity’s downfall or to help the poor to look righteous. Jesus destroyed this in the cross by calling us all equally guilty and all equally loved. It was never in us to justify ourselves, but only Jesus can do this.

He speaks equally to my lack of humility and my lack of confidence. Jesus had to die for my sin so I can’t be prideful: but he was glad to die for my sin so I can’t be in despair. Both are somehow true at the same time, and it’s this paradoxical union of tensions that keeps me oriented to a self-forgetting love for others and a right estimation of myself.

He speaks to my need for approval, validation, and significance. Because Jesus loved me enough to die for me: he is the foundation for all the love I need. He knows me and still loves me, and this is the relational intimacy I’ve always been looking for.

He speaks to my need to serve myself and make life about me. I’m set free because my life is not about me. Life is about the story of God and we’re all bit players. Imagine this sort of freedom: when you can quit living selfishly for yourself. You’re no longer enslaved under the tyrannical dictatorship of self. Imagine this sort of Gospel-shaped person who loved you but didn’t need you, because they’re not using you as a vehicle to serve themselves. They’re not killing you as an obstacle who is in the way of their desires. They’re instead seeking to love you simply because they love you and not because of what you can or won’t do for them, and this is because they are loved the same way.

You see: Every other kind of motivation is inherently selfish. It is all seeking a means to an end, one method using another for self-gain. We’re motivated by fear, by conformity, by trophies, by pleasure, by social standing: and while they might benefit a few, they really just benefit me. The love of God is entirely intrinsic unto itself, in a single direction initiated by its own essence, with nothing to gain and no reason to exist except that it does. When we understand such a love: we’re motivated by a purely one-way love to love in the same way, motivated by the reason of no-reason, because it has inherently punctured through our souls. There is no stronger force than this in the entire universe.

I could keep going. The Gospel of Grace is scary as hell, because it means we can no longer work for our own salvation. It means we’re no longer in control of validating our own lives. But when applied rightly, the Gospel of Grace destroys the gap between who we are and who we want to be. It fills in my existential itch to be both loved and known. It usurps my selfish need to justify and hold myself superior. It ruins everything so perfectly.

 

- Even if you don’t believe Jesus is God, we would still be studying the things he said.

Jesus was intellectually subversive and superlative in every single area of thought. The stuff he said was crazy, revolutionary, mindblowing.

To be truthful, most of his teaching is common sense. But the way in which he broke xenophobia and did away with dichotomous dogmatic thinking was nothing short of astonishing.

You can’t pin him down. He was both merciful and full of justice. He was at times liberal and at times conservative. He loved Roman officials as much as he loved prostitutes, swindlers, and murderers. If he were alive today, he would piss off both Fox News and The New Yorker.

There are not many people like this. Almost everyone in history fell to one side of the spectrum or the other. Their thoughts would fall into one pigeonhole or another. We are not a balanced people who can consistently hold two tensions at once: but Jesus did.

I can almost guarantee that G.K. Chesterton was right: if you repackaged Jesus as a Chinese mythology and re-told it to a non-Christian, they would absolutely love it. But because it’s Jesus and Christianity, people hate it.

The more you read about Jesus, the more you get a sense you’re dealing with the divine. You’re not dealing with human words here. He’s not some comfortable therapeutic guru nor a rebel for rebellion’s sake. He’s something altogether in his own category that transcends our comprehensible reality.

I pray you find him, my friend.

 

“My most recent faith struggle is not one of intellect. I don’t really do that anymore. Sooner or later you just figure out there are some guys who don’t believe in God and they can prove He doesn’t exist, and there are some other guys who do believe in God and they can prove He does exist, and the argument stopped being about God a long time ago and now it’s about who is smarter, and honestly I don’t care.”

— Donald Miller

 

"To fall in love with God is the greatest romance;
to seek Him, the greatest adventure;
to find Him, the greatest achievement.”
— St. Augustine

 

— J.S.

Who among the gods is like you, Lord?

Who is like you— majestic in holiness, awesome in glory, working wonders?

You stretch out your right hand, and the earth swallows your enemies.

In your unfailing love you will lead the people you have redeemed.

In your strength you will guide them to your holy dwelling.

- Exodus 15:11-13

I’m embarrassed to say I haven’t read the Bible regularly in a few months.

I’ve been reading weekly for my sermons: but not so much for my own personal time.  I’ve occasionally dipped my toes but haven’t drank deep in a while.

Maybe this is too honest.  But today I did open up the Bible — and I forgot how clear, cutting, vibrant, and awesome it is to read the very words of God.  I forgot just how very right on that Scripture is about my human condition.  I forgot how small I really am in light of who God is and what He’s doing on this tiny earth.  I remember how alive it feels to see Scripture jump off the page like so many arrows of light and puncture the heart, how fast and far I’ve fallen into weird bizarre patterns of false thinking, how much I’ve let gunk get into the gears of my brain.  I remember how good it feels just to be with Him, a faithful friend and Father, me sitting in His lap to hear His life-giving truth.

I really missed Him.

— J

Dec 2

Five Ways To Kickstart Your Faith Today

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I’m not always a huge fan of to-do lists and techniques, but here are five quick things you can try to get out of that spiritual slump.

 

1) Take a walk, talk with God. 

It’s hard to pray even in our own homes because we’re so connected to everything.  Leave the phone inside and walk the neighborhood.  Talk with Him.  Tell Him about your day, what’s been on your mind, what’s bothering you.  Thank Him for the trees and the breeze and the sun.  It’ll be good times.

 

2) Sing praise as loud as possible.

Take a drive and put on your favorite praise songs.  It might take a while, but after a few songs you’ll end up singing all slobbery at the top of your lungs.  Let it happen.  If you have access to your church, get into your sanctuary and sing with the guitar, or just play a few songs through the speakers.  Sing to Him.

 

3) Read one of Paul’s letters.

It can be really tough to read Scripture because it gets so intimidating, but even if you don’t understand the biblical history or grammar or vocabulary, there will always be something you do understand.  Start with Philippians or Ephesians or Colossians.  If you want to read one of the gospel accounts, try John.  There will be some weird awkward verses you might have trouble with, but that’s okay.  There will be a lot you’ll encouraged by too.  

 

4) Hang out with an older Christian.

Musicians become better when they hang out with better musicians.  Athletes get better when they’re near better athletes. And so Christians grow by soaking in with wise brothers and sisters in Christ.

I absolutely love hanging out with mature Christians, not simply because of what they can do, but because I’m so amazed by their stories and their struggles and how God is moving in their lives.  So many older Christians are just looking for younger ones to pour into, and maybe that’s you.  It’s okay if they’re seventy years old or they’re totally different than you.  Find a mentor, stay connected, listen and learn.

 

5) Create something. 

Whether it’s journaling or drawing or dancing or singing or serving, we’re all created to create.  As a pastor once told me: God made you uniquely you because He wanted to say something to the world that He couldn’t say through anyone else.  It’s part of our divine DNA to create as our Creator does, to spin a unique original work of art into existence.  And it doesn’t have to be for an audience.  The audience is always a bonus: but the art is between you and God.  He enjoys what you’re doing when you enjoy what you’re doing too.

— J.S.

What would you say to a gay teenager who is too scared to go to church because of homophobic comments made there?

Anonymous

Hey my beloved friend, I would say this:

I’m sorry you’ve been treated that way.  Of all people, Christians should be helping you feel the most human and not anything less.  Any abuse you might have suffered at the hands of Christians is NOT indicative of how God feels about you.  God absolutely loves you like crazy.  And the church ought to be the safest, most gracious place on the whole earth. 

I would most likely end the conversation there.  But may I make one very small consideration? 

I very gently, graciously, humbly believe that being for traditional marriage does not instantly mean homophobia.  Certainly there are people on this side who are homophobic, but the idea of traditional marriage in itself is beautiful and glorious.  To yell “homophobia” and “bigotry” too quickly is an unfair bias that carpet-bombs the whole discussion with zero nuance.  I’m not saying that you’re casually using the word “homophobic” and I do not at ALL mean to diminish your feelings.  Please hear me that I love you very much and what you feel is very real.  Every time I’ve spoken with homosexual brothers and sisters, I’m always so terribly endlessly sorry for the pain they’ve felt in church. 

I just want to prepare you for inevitably hearing the biblical view on marriage.  The Bible has this idea that marriage between one man and one woman is pretty awesome.  The church has done a horrible job of showing this to be true.  Instead they mostly just bash homosexuals instead of displaying the greatness of biblical marriage.  On that end, the church and I have totally failed you.  In other words: What we should be doing is telling you about the greatness of God’s idea, not attacking you for where we might disagree.  So I’m trying to say: Be open to God changing your heart on this.  Please don’t cut off God on this just because a few church-people misrepresented Him.

My personal thoughts on homosexuality are kind of complicated and I won’t elaborate here.  If I do, the issues end up becoming more important than the people, and I hate when that happens.  I’ll simply say that you are MORE than just your sexual identity and your life is about a lot more than who you’re attracted to.  I urge you to find a church that respects you as a whole person and that will never coerce you, but instead graciously lead you into God’s awesomeness.  And whatever you might believe in the end: I will damn well love you no matter what.

— J

The law of the Lord is perfect,

refreshing the soul.

The statutes of the Lord are trustworthy,

making wise the simple.

The precepts of the Lord are right,

giving joy to the heart.

The commands of the Lord are radiant,

giving light to the eyes.

The fear of the Lord is pure,

enduring forever.

The decrees of the Lord are firm,

and all of them are righteous.

- Psalm 19:7-9