Tuesday, September 30, 2008

"Moderate" Christians and the prying friend

It has become incredibly difficult for me to blog lately. It takes such a great deal of energy to really focus on the kinds of things I write about here. Tucking away things that happen during a normal day is burden enough. However, an email from Adam from the blogosphere (http://standstraightandstepforward.blogspot.com/) encouraged me to keep going with this. I would also like to give a shout out to Dave (http://openlygaychristian.blogspot.com/) with whom I have made communication quite a chore. I intend to correct that soon--blessings to you in all the many stressful things that are going on in your life!

I have 2 topics to write about tonight...   a) "Moderate" Christians who ignore and/or reject gays and lesbians and b) a friend who is prying

"Moderate" Christians

Lately, it has been incredibly frustrating hearing both the ignorance and the silence towards gays by those Christians who label themselves "moderate."  Those who talk about it tend to have absolutely no clue other than their own perceptions and biases, and those who don't talk about it would probably affirm us, but they are waiting for some magical "right time."

Yesterday I heard two people with whom I work very closely insist that folks "decide" to become gay because it's a "cool" thing to do. Where the hell is this fairy-tale world that they're living in??? Because I would love to be there! This is one I haven't really heard before, but they were absolutely convinced that it happens. Of course, I had to sit there in silence rather than speak up for myself and the many others whose deep pain and frustration is trivialized and mocked by this safe attitude that homosexuality is some sort of "fad," like crocks or Hannah Montana. I say this is a safe attitude to them, because it depersonalizes the issue and lowers it to a place where one thinks she or he can just tell the person dealing with it to "get over it" and "snap out of it."  When will people realize how bad this hurts, how NOT cool we think it is, and how dehumanizing it is to speak of gays and lesbians in such terms. Loving our neighbor implies that we should not mock them or trivialize their gravest struggles.

The second infuriating statement I heard recently was today and it was made by a gentleman who very much disdains Christian fundamentalists, or "fundies" as he so pejoratively calls them.  This is a man who has spent much of his life fighting for the freedom of the Christian individual and the individual's competency in sorting out spiritual matters for his or her self. This is a man who has fought against institutions who wished for its members all to conform to one particular religious and moral standard.  He would proudly call himself a "moderate" Christian.  But the he also proudly states that he walked out of his church because some members and the pastor (whom he immaturely mocks in the process) were open to gays in leadership positions! Way to go, you old fart! You showed them not to mess with the status quo and you showed them what happens when they do: you'll take your money and run along with a whole bunch of other folks!

I'm sorry, but I have no respect for those who think it's somehow righteous for them to consciously destroy unity in a church because some precious children of God have been led to the conclusion that they can live truly as the person they have created to be--and they can be that person in the church.

Why is it that secular institutions must consistently lead the way in civil rights and equality? How embarassing, and how utterly impotent as a moral and ethical influence is the community who follows Jesus Christ.

I more and more feel led to be an advocate for the many people who who struggle to be heard and acknowledged. I feel like someone needs to breaking the silence and speak out against the complete lack of options given by the Christian "center."  I am sick and tired of the cowardly approach that we should give the issue some time before really staking out a position.

I am torn because I feel that it would be right for me to speak out against these things, yet I am scared silly to loose family, friends, reputation and ministry over it. The words of Martin Luther King, Jr. from his "Letter from a Birmingham Jail" should disturb and provoke those people of whom I speak, but actually, it disturbs and provokes me:

We know through painful experience that freedom is never voluntarily given by the oppressor; it must be demanded by the oppressed. Frankly, I have yet to engage in a direct action campaign that was "well timed" in the view of those who have not suffered unduly from the disease of segregation. For years now I have heard the word "Wait!" It rings in the ear of every Negro with piercing familiarity. This "Wait" has almost always meant "Never." We must come to see, with one of our distinguished jurists, that "justice too long delayed is justice denied."

The Friend

I have a very good friend. We both do the same kind of work and we're both damn good at it. We work together on many projects and feed off of each other's contrasting personality types very well. When we're together we come up with some ideas that are almost dangerous.

Today the conversation turned to future career/ministry moves and the issue of my singleness came up. THEN, the question of what to do when someone involved in the hiring process asks, "So, you're not married. Are you gay???" to which I pretty said I would reply, "it's none of your damn business!"

I am nowhere nearly being out to this friend, however, this conversation, coupled with some other remarks he made earlier, along with the very confident answer I gave to his question of what to do in that hypothetical interview situation make me believe that he may be on to me. Should I just bite the bullet and let him know? I do feel somewhat guilty for being not totally honesty about myself with my close friends. But, as I felt before coming out with my one friend who knows, I fear that this would make our friendship awkward, or, worst case scenario, end it.  The difference here is that he is male. I have no kind of romantic or sexual attraction to him IN THE VERY LEAST but I would not want to introduce an 800 pound gorilla to our relationship.

In conclusion, I am mentally exhausted by all of this along with the hum drum of work and school. I yearn for a community who understands me and can accompany me along this way, as I do the same for others. I would be so grateful to hear one person in my world say one thing remotely hopeful about the situation of gays and lesbians. I also long for the courage to be an advocate and support for freedom and acceptance for others in my situation. I am in the same place I have been for several months now in that I simply DO...NOT...KNOW what to do.


gay, christian and scared shitless said...

Amazing post dude.

As for the second bit, its a conumdrum. Have you prayed about it? (I will). I'll give you a call this evening and we can talk through it if you want.

The one in London

KJ said...

Most Christians in Evangelical Land, have the convenience of assuming what they've been told is true, with little need to ask questions, or think for themselves on many topics. Asking questions is seen as a threat, resulting in a fear-based reaction, lest one wander from the faith. Personal experience is downplayed, since that would be relying on one's own-self, as opposed to the teaching of Scripture (As defined by the religious "elite", if you will.). Yet, such an approach to the faith results in a stagnant religion, attempting to move forward on the momentum of those who came before, while failing to reach out to our neighbors now. Christian religion (I consider this separate from faith.) becomes about protecting those who are "in" from those who are "out" -- all about itself. God has stopped speaking. Feh! Can you imagine how church history would be different if the understanding of the ever-exanding breadth of grace was never lived into by succeeding generations?

This you know.

When the guidance of God's Spirit is separated from the creation and experiences in which God has placed us, then we truly are not recognizing the entiety of the Body of Christ, but only the approved portions. I think that in the cased of much of the Evangelical church, it hat become a mouth that has been disconnected from the heart.

The only thing that I have observed that has connected mouth and heart, is the full authenticity of the closeted in the church. Of course, some that you thought knew you, including family, are unable to move away from misperceptions in regards to the one they love, and thought they knew. However, when there are those who discard what they thought to be true about matters of sexuality, and move on because they have to reconcile that misinformation with what they know to be true about the one they love, it's an amazing blessing regarding which, words fail.

I well remember those conversations during which I remained silent -- Knowing what I was hearing was wrong, yet to speak, I felt, would have revealed more about myself than I wanted known. However, a time came when I could no longer be silent. I did not have to wonder when that time was; I knew. You will know when the angst of being fully known pales in comparison to being complicit in the perpetuation of false piety. It's completely a "God thing." You will know.

Your friend's comment is odd. The need for an employing agency within the church to know the sexual orientation of an employee would only be important if they believed that homosexuality is due to a spiritual problem (i.e., rejection of God). If a church, or agency actually believed that, they are not, in fact, listening to the stories of the many glbt children who are leaving the Evangelical church on a regular basis, and thus, why would one want to work in such a setting? On the other hand, if they acknowledge that sexual orientation is not a matter of choice, but believe that the glbt individual is called to celibacy, then why would they need to know the sexual orientation of a potential employee? Wouldn't it be more consistent to make sure the candidate supported abstinence for those who are single?

Rest, JX. Peace, JX. You do not know what to do right now, because you're not supposed to know right now. One thing that our journeys provide us is the opportunity to know the leading of the Spirit, and that God is in fact alive in us. I actually feel a bit sorry for much of the church that does not get to know that type of relationship with our Creator, as they rely on the leading/instruction of others as opposed to the indwelling , every creating Spirit. They substitute the artificial for the real. The "Velveteen Rabbit" had it right!

the Reverend boy said...

What KJ said.

This is very powerful. Thank you.

renzmqt said...

Hello! I got to your blog via Reverend Boy, got to his blog via Mad Priest...

I am a 45 year old gay, nurse, bachelor, Deacon, etc etc I came out in 1981 when I was in highschool. Was one the first NROTC member to be separated from the Navy. Here's my 2 cents worth.

The ridiculous assumption that folks choose to be GLBT to be "cool." (I promised myself not to bring up Liberace...) Why given the still incredible amount of prejudice and violence that GLBT folk face in the world, would we choose this? Now that sounds a bit self-hating and that's not my intention...I knew who I was when I was 12 - why would a pre-teen hellbent on fitting in and being cool choose the one thing that could get his butt kicked, could cause his family to disown him, etc. That said, however, when someone as, shall we say, "elevated" as the Archbishop of Canterbury makes comments along the lines of "lifestyle choices" can we expect lesser folks to not be confused? These two show an incredible level of narrow stereotyping - albeit backhandedly positive, there are so many incredibly UNcool GLBT out there, they're just showing their profound ignorance.

It's wonderful if you manage to find the strength to challenge folk on their prejudice - gay, racial, gender, theological, etc. It's also perfectly ok to choose to let it pass when you're feeling tired or stressed about the many other things you have to focus on in your life. There will be plenty of times to speak up and plenty more folk waiting to be reminded of their ignorance.

As for your friend, all I can say is I remember having a conversation with a good friend many years ago - discussing how tired we were of having the "we have to have a chat" conversation with people. I tell you, as a confirmed gay bachelor, I often wish I had a man on my arm just so people would figure it out on their own without us having to have a "heart to heart" talk. Forgive me for rambling on an on but I will share a short anecdote that hopefully has a point in it somewhere...I moved to the upper peninsula of Michigan from Chicago 10 years ago, right after Matthew Shepherd was murdered...folks in Chicago were so scared for me, they just didn't understand that there are good and bad people everywhere. So I go about my business being comfortable open about myself but without the male accessesory on my arm to force folks to see the truth. So there was this elderly lady at church who always dressed well. One Sunday I complimented her on her outfit and she questioned me about it by saying "Why do you want to wear it?" I was stunned. I thought what a horribly homophobic thing to say. I walked away not knowing what to do. Then a few months later I was invited to share my story with the Welcomer's Committee of which she was a part. She looked at me in the meeting and said, quite honestly, I didn't know you were gay...so her comment that day was not intended as a anti-gay slur, just what she saw as a sassy come back to a younger man.

Peace to you,
I will check out your blog periodically.

lovedintobeing said...

Having been in a similar situation...where I spent way too much time and energy trying to convince people close to me that I was straight...was emotionally and spiritually exhausting. I would like to believe that God intends for your best energy go into the wonderful, creative work that you are called to do in the world and in the Church!

I know that God is with you and pray that you can find a deep sense of your belovedness...that even when those close to you struggle to accept you, you can know yourself truly and deeply loved by God.

miluchainterior said...

I also got here via other blogs. Apologies for my English (it isn't my mother tongue). Thanks for posting such deep comment. My own personal experience is the following: I am a kind of conservative evangelical, I came to faith at the age of 14 (now 37) and I do struggle with same sex attraction. This however never was my main identity. Actually, I live in a society where nobody cares about what you do in bed. It isn't so important the label you wear. As you very well stated, my sexuality is not of the business of anyone. As Church leader, I am accountable for all my actions, thoughts and desires. And I give accounts regularly to my pastor (who acts as accountability partner). You made me think that i have been there, done that but the only place where I found some rest for my soul and the strength in the struggles was, is and will be in communion with Jesus.
Fully agree on how frustrating is the Church some times. However, i have to say that if there's one institution in the world that should never accommodate to the times and societies is her ... God does not change, though people and societies do.
Be blessed,

mark said...

Dear Child of God -

I hear and can relate to your pain. As a man who is gay and Christian myself, I understand the delicate balancing act one sometimes has to maintain to be part of a Christian community.

Saint Ireneaus writes, "The glory of God is man fully alive." Until you come out of the closet as both Christian and gay, your life will be a struggle. If you come out and are rejected by your current religious community, then perhaps God is calling you elsewhere.

Peace little brother -


Fancy Pants said...

yeah, I agree that there are no easy answers.

I had a dream the other day, repeated twice, about going to prison for something I wrote. And in the dream I was crying, and confused, and upset, and beside myself. I'm not sure why I had that dream.

But I think that in pushing myself to explore my sexuality and to write about it openly I have pushed a lot of boundaries and triggered a lot of deep-seated fears.

Reading MLK's words, I'm reminded of that line from "Desperado" -- "your prison is walking through this world all alone." I think that, in the end, staying in the closet makes you desperate, and lonely, a "desperado" of sorts pushed to sometimes-wolfish anger at your predicament. I don't think there are any easy answers for you; instead, just many things to consider. I'm out of the closet now, but my family doesn't speak to me anymore, which is its own kind of prison. While I feel like I made the right choice and much prefer my present to my past, it's not easy. A big part of the "homosexual agenda" is this argument that coming out fixes everything. And it doesn't. MLK being locked up in prison didn't fix anything. But it DID allow him to strengthen his resolve, and know what he was fighting for and, in the end, I think it was worth it. But he paid a pretty heavy price. It's not fair that gay men and women from the Evangelical community are forced into this situation, but I'm convinced that there is only one way it's going to change.