A gay blogger has a piece of advice for Christians who tell him he should leave his homosexual lifestyle: don't confuse your best with God's best.
Azariah Southworth, who maintains that God affirms his homosexuality, recently wrote a blog post about lessons that "straight Christians must learn." In it, he suggested that conservative Christians who believe homosexuality is a sin are mistaken in their interpretation of the Bible.
"[W]hen you tell me my life would be better as x,y,z; you're minimizing my relationship with Christ. I have a different interpretation of a couple verses in the Bible," he wrote. "I have reconciled my faith and sexual orientation. There has to be respect for my personal journey with God."
Southworth, formerly host of "The Remix," a popular Christian music program, has spoken openly about his negative experiences in the church, which include ex-gay counseling.
But despite what many preachers say in condemning homosexuality, he insists that God not only loves LGBT persons but also affirms them.
Since coming out in 2008, Southworth said he has received emails from old friends, strangers and past fellow church members – "people who are reaching out to me in hopes for me to 'see the light' and come out of this 'lifestyle' – for me to deny my identity."
One email from Connie (whose last name was withheld) reads: "Jesus has soooo much better life for you than what you're experiencing now. As long as you have breath, there is hope...."
Southworth responded on his blog, saying, "I just wish Connie could know the Jesus I know. The one that delivers us from fear, breaks the bondage of ignorance, the one that loves and affirms all people; regardless of their sexual orientation.
"I'm not hurt by Connie's email because I know she means well. She has reached out to me time and time again, she truly cares and wants the best for me. However, Connie is confusing her best with God's best. Connie has done what countless others have done and continue to do; they have made God nothing more than a mere reflection of themselves."
The gay blogger, who outed young evangelical Jonathan Merritt in a controversial blog post in 2012, insisted that homosexuality is not an "abstract theological concept," but rather "a piece of me."
"I didn't choose this anymore than you choose to be straight," he wrote.
He also argued that there are "many interpretations" of the Bible and believes Christians should do their research on what the Scriptures say on homosexuality.
His statements are nothing new.
Among some of the more publicized arguments made by those who identify as gay Christians, Matthew Vines challenged the belief that homosexuality is a sin. An over hour-long video of Vines making his case garnered hundreds of thousands of views on YouTube.
But many Christians, including those who struggle with same-sex attraction, rejected Vines' arguments.
In the end, Southworth wants Christians to get to know him and have a "mutually respectful dialogue" about homosexuality.