In his book Sunday Morning: A Testimony of Life, Richard Brown shares his personal experiences in life as a gay African-American Christian. Not only does the author shed light on the somewhat hidden world of gay Christians and the struggles they face from organizations and churches that have challenged the notion of whether a believer can have faith if he’s gay, but he calls for change. It’s something, he says, that’s inherent to Biblical teachings of acceptance and forgiveness.
Eight years ago, Brown founded Positive Gay Black Men of New Jersey which provides support for gay men of color interested in exploring Christianity. Similarly, in the new book, the author takes a somewhat controversial approach to Christian teachings, standing in contrast to public condemnations of homosexuality. He says he hopes to inspire a more accepting, welcoming environment for all Christians – regardless of sexual orientation.
“After I look at what God has done for me, I now have to testify as to his power and love, and how he accepts me for me,” Brown says. “I believe my message will be better served by suggesting and supporting that every individual has the ability to hear from God on their own through study, fasting and prayer.”
While Brown’s book is deeply personal, he’s not the first person to question modern Christianity’s take on homosexuality. Considered by many to be the centerpiece of the LGBT and Christian movement in scholarly circles since it was published in the 1980s, John Boswell’s Christianity, Social Tolerance and Homosexuality explores how the church has evolved – and not for the better – when it comes to same-sex unions and gay people in Western Europe through the 14th Century. Boswell also penned a book about Same-Sex Unions in Premodern Europe in the 1990s before gay marriage was as much the topic of discussion. Both books touched a nerve in many theological circles.
But for anyone who struggles with their faith, Brown’s latest message will undoubtedly also strike a chord. For those who may have denounced churches and religious leaders because of their harsh stance on issues like same-sex marriage, the book offers an alternative.
“If has been a long time coming, and yet Sunday Morning offers my experience with God and offers several meditations that have helped me over every obstacle, through every battle,” says Brown. “Let us stop the madness of exclusion.”
Brown taps into many of the scriptures that churches have used to alienate LGBT Christians in recent years, and to illustrate that – at least for him – it is possible to be both gay and Christian.