Kendell Tanner is a Senior at Moody Bible Institute. I met him earlier this year at an event I spoke at, and he reached out to me a few days later asking if we could grab coffee. In the months since then we’ve gotten a chance to connect and get to know each other. He has opened up to me about some hard things in his life. One of those is that Kendell is a gay man seeking to honor God with his life. Walking this road is a challenge, and doing so at Moody is unique and presents challenges of its own. Kendell recently wrote the following article for the MBI student newspaper, The Standard to share some his experience with the student body. It was a courageous and significant thing for him to do. I am honored to be Kendell’s friend and hope these words will be an encouragement and challenge.
When I enrolled as a freshman, I would never have said I was gay. I wanted to keep it quiet for fear of freaking out my guy friends. You hear gay jokes around campus, in the dorms and even sometimes in the classroom, and you’re afraid if you come out people will look at you differently.I remember being terrified of the thought of coming out as transgendered and gay in a Christian environment. How would people react? Was I going to be an outcast? Was my faith, respected by my peers, going to be doubted by all I came in contact with? Would it ever be worth it to come out of the closet?
When I first came out to my small group, they laid hands on me, prayed for me, thanked me for confessing deep, dark things, and said they’d be there to support me as I struggled through it. Sean, Troy, Josh and Matt (otherwise known as Dove Love) heard me and have helped me as I struggle and continue to fight for freedom in Christ. My roommate, Blake, treats me as an image bearer of Christ and not as a broken vase that’s his project from God to fix. This was the single greatest act of love from the Church I have ever experienced. These guys actually listened to me as I argued and fought with the biblical text and with God. They were patient and gave me community and a space to struggle and not be judged.
Being gay in an overwhelmingly hyper-romantic culture at Moody sometimes makes you feel second class. Even when your Bible Intro professor speaks of love and marriage it feels as if love is impossible. Most Moody students today like to say all sins are equal in the eyes of God, that there is no scale, that a little lie would have been enough to require Christ’s atonement. We say this in theory, but in practice we know that that little lie won’t completely disqualify you for ministry. Struggling with homosexuality while finding a ministry to work with makes finding a needle in the haystack seem enjoyable.
Life as a Christian who is gay is difficult. The Bible tells us that to follow Christ we must surrender all earthly passions. For the homosexual, that means no future of family or the blessing of marriage. It’s difficult to think of a life of singleness as an even gift.
Moody Students, we are among you, beside you and rooming with you. Give us grace as we struggle for holiness and sometimes fail. Give us your prayers, not just for today, but throughout your ministry here on earth. We are tempted every day and for the sake of the gospel, reject our natural desires. As the world and many members of the Church begin to embrace homosexuality as a positive alternative to true holy biblical relationships, stand with us. Don’t make homosexuality a worse sin than others, but bear our burdens with us as we seek to be Holy. Listen to us and be open to allowing the Spirit of God to transform us into the image of Christ. As I leave Moody soon and very soon, I ask for the Saints on this campus to just listen and love, as Christ did.
*Posted with permission from Kendell Tanner