Know ye not that the unrighteous shall not
inherit the kingdom of God? Be not deceived:
neither fornicators, nor idolaters, nor adulterers,
nor effeminate, nor abusers of themselves with
mankind, Nor thieves, nor covetous, nor drunk-
ards, nor revilers, nor extortioners, shall inherit
the kingdom of God.
1 Corinthians 6: 9–10, King James Bible
When the door opened, I saw a man of medium height and build, with dark brown hair and eyes, who just seemed used to smiling. He held the screen door open and said, “Come on in.” After I made it through the door frame, he reached over and hugged me, telling me how glad he was that I had come. I responded awkwardly, unaccustomed to hugging people I did not know well—something that I soon discovered I would have to get over pretty quickly. I followed him down a short hallway into the living room, where about fifteen people were eating and talking. He asked for their attention and introduced me as “the researcher who was going to attend their Bible study to learn how they experienced being gay and Christian.” Someone called out, “The truth will set you free,” and others murmured, “Amen to that.” One by one, the group members came over to introduce themselves and hugged me in welcome.
Soon, the group leader announced it was time to start the Bible study, and people began to find their way to the chairs and sofas that were arranged in a circle. I took a seat next to an empty chair. Everyone joined hands. The person sitting next to me leaned over and whispered that I should put my hand on the empty chair next to me, explaining that it was a symbolic chair, put in the circle to wait for the next gay person yet to find his or her way to the group. By touching it, I was symbolically reaching out to that person. I followed his directions, and then we bowed our heads and the leader began to pray: