Culture / Pursuing Wisdom / May 9, 2013

Words from a Gay Student to his Classmates at Moody Bible Institute

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 



May 02, 2014

[…] The article’s link is here:… […]

Sep 13, 2014

My wife and I found this article to be quite profound. Kendell’s words seem deeply moved from a real desire to know God’s love and the love of the church. I can hear Kendell’s real battle to walk in the Spirit yet struggle with the flesh’s desire to do what is contrary to God’s word. To see other Christians choosing to lovingly walk with Kendell through this tension of trying to understand God’s will as a Christian with gay tendencies is so refreshing and yet challenging for the church.

Please explain what Kendell meant that the church was beginning, “to embrace homosexuality as a positive alternative to true holy biblical relationships.”

Thank you for your response.

Greg Munoz

Dec 31, 2014

Kendall, you are dealing with two big problems, your sexuality and the Church. Although there are people within the Church that no doubt care about you, the Church does not mind leaving you and others like you in the twilight zone. I noted that you call being gay a sin. You get that from the Church. Jesus never said it’s a sin to be the way God made you. As long as you feel you are sinning you will be defeated in whatever you do for God. When I was a student at Moody they made me join a church. Jesus said to follow him (not the Church). If we don’t, THAT is a sin.

You are not any different from the rest. We are all born in sin. Jesus said we must be born again. This means falling in love with him and having no desires of our own. This is for straight people as well as gays. He should be the one you love, the one you want to please, not a man or woman. He wants us to leave all others behind and follow him. Not many are willing to do this, he said there would be only a few. Those unwilling to do this themselves should not be counseling you. When he is in you, and you in him, as you come to trust him he gives you the ability to do whatever he wants you to do. It’s true, Jesus said it and he doesn’t lie.

This is a time to be looking up, not hooking up. Those who minister to him during the tribulation we are told in Revelation are unmarried. Jesus said (Luke 18:29) they will be repaid many times over both in this life and the world to come.

Jun 07, 2015

“Jesus never said it’s a sin to be the way God made you”….wow, what a profound and dangerous statement, a total misunderstanding of the human condition, God’s response to it, and God’s solution to it. We are all of us, “made by God”, and we are “made”, since our Fall, as sinners, by conception (Psalm 51:5), and by direct creation by God (Proverbs 16:4). Does sin result, when we live “the way God made us”? Absolutely! Yet, God’s response is the gospel, whereby power is granted, through faith in Jesus Christ, to have our sinful natures replaced with a new nature, which is “Christ formed within” (Galatians 4:19). Positively, this means the ability to do those things which God would have us to do (cf. Paul @ Acts 9:6: “what would Thou have me to do?”), and negatively, to refrain from what we ought not to do, those many and multiple sins, including sexual sins, both heterosexual AND homosexual. The difference here is that while certain heterosexual activities can be and are sinful (fornication, adultery), ALL homosexual activity is sinful, and is condemned by God. Now, before you attempt to stone me as judgmental, uncaring and unfeeling, let me say that, in a very real way, I understand what this young man is going through: I am a divorced Christian man who remains dedicated and very much in love with my ex-wife, who wants nothing to do any longer with me. If she remains this way, and if I don’t find freedom to pursue love again, then I am very much where the gay man is, having to deny any outlet for my “natural desires”.

Jul 14, 2015

Thank you, thank you, thank you for sharing this. 😀

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