Open Letter: No, Mr. Cook, Being Gay Isn’t a Gift from God—But Something Much Greater Is

Mr. Tim Cook
1 Infinite Loop
Cupertino, CA  95014

You don’t know me. I’m not a CEO, a tech guy, an actor, or a politician. I’m a writer with a blog (not many of those around, eh?). But I’ve been following your work for a while. Back in the late ‘90s, I’d finally had enough blue screens of death and driver incompatibility issues from Microsoft Windows. So, when a certain Bondi blue gumdrop of a computer came out (you guys called it the iMac), I plunged in headfirst. (I’m even one of the few who loved the hockey puck mouse.)

My house looks something like an Apple Store at this point. MacBook Airs and Pros, iPads, iPods, and iPhones are pretty much members of the family. I’m even typing this on a much newer iMac.

You could say that I’m an Apple guy.

Let me just say that when Steve Jobs passed away, I wasn’t really worried about the company. I’d seen your work, and you’ve got a gift for keeping things on track. You know how to get the right people in the right place at the right time.

Recently, you did a very brave thing. You finally confessed to being gay. I have to admit that I wasn’t surprised. Your avid support for the LGBTQ community and concern for those who suffer from fear-based attacks has been a big giveaway. You could say that it was about as well kept of a secret as was your last iPad.

But still, confessing the truth is brave. We often have roadblocks of fear and potential rejection that keep us from admitting such hidden parts of our lives. Add to that the pressure of being the CEO of a company beloved by people all over the spectrum, and it’s obvious you took a tough step.

Now, I want to urge you to not stop there. Confession should only be the beginning; you also need surrender. You see, you claimed that being gay was a “gift from God.” But I have to tell you, even if it’s hard, that what you said just isn’t the truth.

I can’t say I completely blame you, especially in this country right now. We Americans have our ideas about God really mixed up, and the pull of these false ideas is seductive. The god that many Americans worship has a pretty hands-off approach, lays out infinite paths to heaven, and generally just wants us all to be happy with any decision we make. For many, this god (if he is the one who gave us the Bible) didn’t really condemn much of anything because he didn’t foresee how well we moderns would figure things out.

The problem with these notions is that a god who doesn’t know everything—past and future—is no god at all. A god who allows anything and everything cannot also be loving. And a god without standards and expectations is a god who cannot bring justice. Really, this American god is something we’ve created to feel better about the choices we make. But if we’re honest, he’s also a jumbled, powerless mess.

You say that you’re proud to be gay, and I certainly believe you. But—and here’s the hard truth—pride has a way of making us not deal with our problems. We cling tightly to the treasures that our world tells us are important: self-identity and passions mostly. Mr. Cook, you need to understand that those things put us on a broad road that leads not to victory, but destruction.

Is that harsh? Yes, it may seem so. But just as a smartphone maker sets certain parameters for how the operating system works and what the apps can and can’t do, God—the true God, not the American one—does the same. He created a world with certain standards of right and wrong, certain boundaries for what His greatest creation (that’s us) can do.

If that’s so, then why do you have the desires that you do, the ones that are so strong they seem like part of who you are? That’s because our world isn’t like it was meant to be. We’ve fallen so far from what God intended that sometimes the things He doesn’t want us to do seem good to us.

That gets us to the whole gift thing. You mentioned God’s gifts, and I want to tell you that God (not the American god but the real One) has given us a truly amazing gift. We’re fallen; we’re so mixed up we can’t tell up from down. But our Creator, Jesus, came to this earth on a special rescue mission. He took on our skin and bones and then took on our sin on the cross. He did that to yank us out of the confusion we’re in. Grace, Mr. Cook—grace is the greatest gift we’ve been given. And it’s big enough for this former atheist and for a gay CEO.

Realizing and accepting God’s grace in Jesus won’t suddenly make everything easy. You’ll still have your passions and failings, your urges and problems. But you’ll also have God’s leading to see what is right, even against the flawed views of culture.

If you need help, please visit the website LivingOut.org. You’ll find inspirational stories of brave men just like you who are fighting the battle against same-sex attraction and winning in Jesus’ name. They deny themselves (their fallen, broken selves) to take up their Jesus-changed selves.

I pray you find God’s true and greatest gift.

In Christian love,
John UpChurch