Saturday, October 29, 2005

Caught In The Middle

I wasn't planning on writing today since I have a full day in store for me but I really need to process through some things right now so please excuse the raw thoughts....

Friggin A!!!

Okay, not completely raw right there - i just thought some innocent eyes may be reading this. But hell, i'm sure feeling like yelling and cussing right now. Aaarrrrgh!!!

I feel like I'm in the middle of a divorce and since I've already gone through that (and figured I was over it by now) I'm noticing all these emotions coming up again. I think Elizabeth Marquardt is right - "Divorce shapes children in their inner lives in lasting ways that turn up in young adulthood." What's stirring up all this inside me?

Maybe it has something to do with yesterday's post. Earlier this week, Ninjanun wrote a great post that included a link to another blog post called "Peanut Butter and Gays". Now, first off, i want to make clear that I love the fact that Ninjanun and many many people out in the blogosphere are supportive of gay people (or at least speak against injustice) and they are calling out those in the Church that are hostile towards us. I take no offense to reading these blog posts - in fact, i'm thankful that there are people willing to step up and advocate for justice, mercy, and grace.

So here's the thing. I feel caught in the middle of a divorce between mom and dad who are yelling and arguing with each other and here I am feeling like it's my fault they're arguing. Now, of course I know it's not my fault - for the homosexual debate nor for my own parents' divorce. But i'm noticing the same emotions coming up and its frustrating. I read the peanut butter post and Ninjanun's post and all the comments people made in there and I just found myself about ready to cry.

For my first 13 years of being a Christian, since I was a junior in high school I was surrounded by the parent (Church) that proclaimed that homosexuality is a sin and that it's wrong and that, even though they didn't know I was, they said that "those" people are not acceptable in the Lord's eyes because of what they "do". I agreed with them and took the Side X perspective that I should be and can be transformed to be straight. Now, for the past 5-6 months or so, I have surrounded myself with the other parent (Church) that says that being gay is not a sin and further, the other parent ought to be ashamed of themselves for being so ignorant, discriminatory, and hypocritical.

My journey has been about looking at all the sides and exploring this for myself. What would it look like for me to be gay and Christian? And while I tread this journey, i feel like there are people on both sides of the road. On my left are those cheering me on. On my right are those throwing rocks. On both sides, they are yelling and hollering at each other. All I'm trying to do is look ahead of me - that's where Jesus is with His arms wide open.

I know things need to be said. In fact, I hope Ninjanun and many other friends in the blogosphere will continue to advocate for "people like me". It just hurts to be in the middle of the argument feeling powerless to bring peace. Of anything, i know it'll get worse as this country and the Church is polarized by the issue.

I can't make the Church love each other. I can't make the Church get along. I can't even make the Church love a 'sinner' like me. But this makes me think that maybe that's the real issue. Jesus said that it's not about adultery, it's about lust. He said that it's not about murder, it's about hate. Perhaps, it's not about homosexuality or even the debate about it - but rather, it's about all of us not loving each other properly. Love God, love your neighbor. We all need to get this right. The Church needs to start loving people instead of condemning people in judgment. The gay community needs to start loving people (of both genders) instead of objectifying the flesh in lust. (Note: so far in my journey, i think that the references to homosexuality in the Bible were referenced in the context of unloving actions - idolatry, prostitution, pederastry, etc. Committed and loving same-sex relationships in today's context don't fall in that category. However, i think the promiscuousness in parts of both the gay and straight community do fit in that category.)

If the Church is ever going to reconcile, instead of divorcing each other, maybe we all ought to take a step back from the issue and assess our own walk with Christ and get back to the basics. Love God. Love your neighbor.

Friday, October 28, 2005

I'm Filipino, OK?

George Takei is gay. You know, that guy from the original Star Trek series with everyone in way too tight Star Fleet uniforms - Sulu. The asian guy. Yeah, apparently he's gay. A good friend of mine pointed out the article to me.

I would have never thought he was gay. I know, i know, there are some out there saying, "Duh!" But i have always referred to my "gay-dar" as pretty weak. I can't normally determine if someone is gay because, quite frankly, I haven't spent a whole lot of time around gay people except these past 5-6 months. Among my friends, i refer to my "gay-dar" as merely sonar. I can pick up what's on the surface. I'll send out a wave and a bleep will sound just to tell me something is out there. Some of my other friends, on the other hand, have much more advanced detection systems than I do. Some of my friends have X-ray detection technology that will enable them to point out every gay person in the crowd. Yet, I have other friends that have infrared detection technology that allows them to point out the closet cases. They have the super power of being able to see deep into a person's soul. (Okay, maybe not that extreme nor mystical - i know, only God sees all).

As i read the article, the striking thing for me wasn't that he is gay. Rather, it was the reference to him living in a U.S. internment camp for Japanese from ages 4 through 8 and growing up ashamed of his ethnicity and sexuality. That's the part that hits home for me because I've always had "issues" and "baggage" about my ethnicity. I left the Philippines at the age of about 3 years old because my dad was in the Air Force. We were in Illinois, then ended up in Hawaii. I'm pretty much "americanized" and don't feel much attachment to my ethnic heritage (but i can make a good chicken adobo though!). Anyway, after my parents divorced, I moved with my mom to Southern California.

At that time, everything was new to me. It was a new place to live. It was a new family arrangement. I hadn't made friends yet. I was feeling weird about the divorce. I was feeling somewhat rejected by my dad for "choosing" my mom. Plus, there was the awkwardness of knowing I was gay and entering junior high school (I knew I was gay since 3rd grade). One day, I was walking down the street and a white pick up truck with two caucasian guys drove by and yelled out, "Chink chink!" I was devastated. How the hell do I respond to that?

I can trace my own personal ethnic shame back to that moment in 7th grade. I hated the fact that I wasn't caucasian. I always felt different. In those early years, what I wanted most was to be accepted and wanted. Sure, there's that parallel of my sexuality too. However, many times, it was harder for me to accept my ethnicity than it was to accept my sexuality. I can hide being gay. I can dismiss my sexuality as sin or confusion or brokenness or whatever. But I can't dismiss my ethnicity. It stares me right in the face when I look in the mirror. There's no hiding from it - even basic sonar can reveal that I'm filipino. I'm filipino. Wow, it took a long time for me to be able to say that. I didn't even like to categorize myself on applications as "Asian" because I was ashamed of it.

So you can imagine, that when it comes to attraction, i've always been less attracted to "asian" guys (because I saw myself in them) and was more attracted to caucasian guys, perhaps because I wanted to be like them. It's way weird for me to hear that there are some caucasian guys out there that like asian guys. Yeah, I know, it sounds sad to see oneself that way but that was the reality of my shame. In theory and in conversation, ethnicity shouldn't be a pressing issue when it comes to relationships but that's a reality for some of us who feel rejected because of it. So couple that with the issues with my sexuality, plus my feelings of family rejection after the divorce, and it sets the stage for the day I tried to kill myself in 9th grade. I'm thankful that God wasn't done with me yet.

Thursday, October 27, 2005

Learning to Unlearn

I feel like i've said this a billion times (practically) but I really do think that challenging my own previously held beliefs about faith and God and homosexuality hasn't weakened my beliefs but rather revealed them - shaped them even. Yes, I do feel much more comfortable looking in the mirror and being okay with the fact that I am a gay man, but also that I am a gay man that really does look fondly at God. I am a gay Christian.

For so long, I hid either one or the other about myself. To some people, I was Christian but definitely couldn't reveal the fact that I was attracted to other guys because there was usually a hostility towards those "immoral and corruptible" people. To some people, I was gay but definitely couldn't bring up my faith because there was usually a hostility from people that was more directed at the "Church" than to God. And so now, it feels good to explore what it might look like for me to be both - gay and Christian.

Since being this comfortable about my sexuality is very new to me, I'm still discovering what it even means to be gay. I know that the person I am is more than just my sexuality. But I can't deny it either if I want to honestly explore the person He created me to be - the person He intended me to be. I know that the Bible says that I am a "new creation", so what does that look like being gay? What does that even look like being straight? I don't think it's a gay/straight issue. I think that being a new creation involves loving more genuinely in every relationship - not just the romantic ones. That's what i'm beginning to understand. It's not about who I express love to sexually, but it's about how I express love to all people.

These are some of the things that i'm learning to unlearn. Love not lust. Relationship not manipulation. Acceptance not condemnation. Exploration not assumptions. Covenant relationship not ceremonial presentation. It's not about learning alternative truths. It's about a completely different shift in the lifestyle of my paradigm. It's about living out the realities and truths of my faith, seeing how my life is affected and shaped by them, and allowing myself to live in the gray areas. I'd rather do that than simply going through the motions of religion and proclaiming either black or white issues. I want to unlearn the pride and arrogance of assuming that I know it all. There are things and ideas that I don't have all the answers to - and those are the things I want to explore with God either in front of me (as I follow Him) or at my side (as I fellowship with Him). That is my journey.

Allowing myself to explore what it means to be gay and Christian isn't about freely indulging in sexual sin. Rather, it's about me having the freedom to explore life as the man I am, being seasoned by my faith, and being shaped daily to be a man more like Christ.

Monday, October 24, 2005

Homosexuality in the Bible

There's a ton of resources out there on homosexuality and the Bible. They all say similar things - some say it's a sin because of the "clobber passages" while others say it's not a sin because of the "clobber passages". There are books and essays and research papers and web sites and it gets pretty tiring sometimes to read the same things over and over again. Few times have I come across a resource that I found refreshingly concise.

After reading Justin Cannon's paper called "The Bible, Christianity, and Homosexuality", there were some of the same things that I had already read before from other sources. Yet, there were many other things that I hadn't and also things that he phrased in such a way that made sense. What I really liked about Justin's paper was that he was incredibly concise and to the point. I loved that I didn't have to read through a ton of content to figure out the point he was trying to make. I know that I said before that i'd make a side by side comparison of differing perspectives - it'll come, I haven't forgotten.

In the mean time, if you are someone who is either trying to explore this issue for yourself, researching this issue out of concern for a gay friend or family member, or have already read so much out there that you can practically write a book on the subject yourself, I would recommend giving Justin's paper a read. I'd be interested to hear about what people think about it, especially from those who have believed that homosexuality (in the modern context) is wrong.

Sunday, October 23, 2005

Entering The Hot Zone

I've referenced the "Hot Zone" before as "the place where conversation about homosexuality and faith and God are no longer the unspeakable topic". I've also called it "the forbidden territory of questioning church, interpretations, and paradigms". It's refreshing to me because challenging my own previously held (or even current) beliefs hasn't weakened what I believe, but rather it's revealed and even shaped them. I find that most people are unwilling to do that for themselves and they are the one's who have the hardest time engaging in dialogue about being gay and Christian.

However, I think that the dialogue is important. How can people who disagree about these things enter the "Hot Zone" productively? How can a straight person who doesn't agree with the "gay lifestyle" connect with a gay person in a way that doesn't portray the kind of judgmental condemnation that scares them away from the Church? How can a gay Christian who believes that monogamous same sex relationships are acceptable connect with another gay Christian who believes that we should be celibate? How can an "ex-gay" Christian connect with a gay Christian without an eruption of hostility?

I had the honor of being asked by my friend Justin Lee to write a paper on any topic I wanted to serve as a resource over at GayChristian.Net. I decided to write about this "Hot Zone" and all of us mixed together with differing opinions. I'd love to get any feedback from anyone.

Click here to read my paper entitled "Building Relationships That Matter: A Framework For Entering The Hot Zone".

Saturday, October 22, 2005

Lil' Rascals

I've always wanted to have kids. For many reasons, i suppose. I even had names for the lil' rascals set aside (considering my spouse agreed, of course). There was my boy Matthew Brian. Then there was lil' Nicholas Andrew. I've also liked the names Caleb, Melissa, Samantha, and Justin. All cute names, I think.

I love Angel's blog because I know that 9 times out of 10 I will end up smiling, giggling, or bursting out in laughter - not to mention the "awwww" - after reading one of her posts. She's got such a wonderful family and I love it when she talks about her kids. There was the one about the lizard. There was that hilarious one about the velociraptor in church. And of course there was the cute one about the elmo suitcase.

I've mentioned before in a previous post called "Hope of Having Children" that I was a bit concerned about whether or not i'd be able to have natural born children of my own if I came to the conclusion that gay relationships in the context of commitment, love, monogamy, and faithfulness were acceptable. I know many gay couples that have kids who have adopted. Even before I started this journey of mine, I had been thinking that in addition to kids with my wife we could adopt as well. Lord knows how many kids are in need out there.

Geek Boi wrote a post that got me thinking about kids again. What would I have to give up to have kids? I've grown accustomed to living on my own and having my own space (especially since I was able to get my own apartment again). For starters, i'd have to give up sleep. Many friends of mine tell me about the staying up at 3AM because the little bugger won't fall asleep. I'd definitely be grocery shopping differently. I typically get healthy foods anyway but I'm sure i'll be getting lots more of the "fun" foods. Of course, there's the taking the kids to school and picking them up. There's the talking about our day at school or work conversations that we'll be having. I'm typically pretty patient but I suppose i'll also have to get used to the crying, then the whining. And i'm sure there's much much more to give up and to gain and to look forward to.

Whatever it was that I'd have to give up, adjust to, or learn, I'd gladly do it to be a good parent. Whether I'm raising them with a 'he' or a 'she', I pray I won't be doing it alone. That's a chapter in my life journey that I'm definitely looking forward to.

Friday, October 21, 2005

Irreconcilable Differences

One of Brian Harmon's posts got me thinking about how my views and opinions have changed over the past several months. I've always thought of myself as pretty conservative but I wouldn't get that impression if I reread some of my past posts. I used to be adamant about the sinfulness of homosexuality but now I'm inclined (but still open to the other views) to think that the context of loving gay relationships can't be categorized in the same context of idolatrous, lustful, and promiscous activity.

A very good friend of mine was highly wrapped up in the tension in the Episcopal Church here in the United States and her church was a strong advocate against their denomination's stance regarding the issue of homosexuality - their acceptance of "practicing" homosexuals as clergy. Through my friend, i got an inside glimpse of the side that broke off from that denomination. A group of churches here in Southern California were the first to split association from the Episcopal Church USA and placed themselves under an Anglican bishop in Africa.

I used to pray with them as they struggled through the whole process of breaking away. I've never been a denominational kind of person but I could see how hard it was for them because they took such pride in being "Episcopalian". Their expression of worship has high value in tradition, structure, and liturgy. It was a tough thing for them to split from their denomination. Irreconcilable Differences. They still consider themselves "Anglican" but it was a pretty tough "divorce" for them to go through.

Gosh, what would my good friend think or say to me if she knew that now I'm sympathetic to the "enemy".

Thursday, October 20, 2005

No Need For A Rebuttal

". . . unlike homosexuals, heterosexuals sacrifice themselves and their personal desires for the sake of their partners. They commit to each other and care for each other even when times are difficult. Being 'gay' is only about sex, and that's no way to have a life . . ."

This is a tiny exerpt from a post called "How Not To Make Me Ex-Gay" over at where Jason Kuznicki posted a composite letter similar to many that he typically receives from people that are ex-gay or are from ex-gay ministries. It's definitely worth checking out - and note the way he uses the pictures (with dates) throughout the letter. It was kewl - no need for a rebuttal to the letter because a picture sometimes does speak a thousand words....

Wednesday, October 19, 2005

Truth Sets Free

I was listening to GCN's online radio show today and they were interviewing Justin Cannon, the founder of They talk about the interpretation and translations used in what is now todays versions of the Bible for the word "homosexual". Justin said something in a way that I had never heard phrased before. He said that the Bible talks clearly about prostitution and adultery but it doesn't condemn heterosexuality. Those things are distortions of heterosexuality. Similarly, the references to homosexuality in the original greek and hebrew scriptures weren't referring to same-sex relationships but rather in the context of abuse, rape, violence, and idolatry. I thought that was an interesting point.

He also noted that the word "homosexuality" wasn't coined until the 19th century. So what we think of when we read the word "homosexuality" isn't the same as what the Bible was referring to several thousand years ago. I've spoken to several straight people about that and they seem to just write it off as if it's irrelevant. In fact, I get that alot when I talk to some people about what the gay Christians are saying about why they believe being gay is okay. They just kind of dismiss it as if it's not worth investigating - no reason to challenge one's own beliefs. I used to be that way before this journey - I refused to hear anything related to gay Christian because I didn't want to hear the "lies". I didn't want to get sucked into the sin of compromising "truth". I'm finding that that's pretty arrogant and ignorant. I believe that questioning one's own beliefs doesn't weaken them. Rather, it reveals them.

They talk about quite a few other interesting things. Check out the interview by going here, then find the October 14, 2005 episode with Justin Cannon.

Tuesday, October 18, 2005

"I'm Gay, OK?"

Just wanted to make sure everyone knew about the upcoming Dr. Phil show episode called, "I'm Gay, OK?" that will be discussing issues pertaining to being gay, Christian, and a teenager. The episode will air tomorrow, Wednesday, October 19th. (Check your local listings!)

Justin from Gay Christian Network will be on the show to talk about a Christian context for the gay, lesbian, bisexual, and transgendered community while a priest talks about the need to "change" or be straight.

For those who have recently discovered Two World Collision, take a look at one of my previous posts called "Insights From A Visionary" talking about Justin.

Monday, October 17, 2005

Don't Ask Don't Tell

I read an article called "Student Expelled For Being Gay Takes Case To Supreme Court" that came out last week. It's about a case in Florida where a student attending a Christian high school was asked by the chaplain if he was gay. The student, Jeffrey Woodard, was pulled out of Bible class and was directly asked the question (in confidence) if he was gay. Jeffrey answered, "yes". A school official called his mother and told her that Jeffrey could not attend the upcoming school retreat until they met with the school to talk about his "sexual orientation".

[ **Remember the craziness last month about the student being expelled because, not she, but her parents were lesbian? ** ]

I understand that the school had a policy and everything but I couldn't help but think that the school administrators were worried about Jeffrey being around other students at this overnight retreat. Is Jeffrey somehow dangerous around other teenage boys his age because he's gay? I know the article doesn't mention this, and perhaps i'm reading "into" it, but i noted after reading the article that they weren't so much concerned, at first, about his enrollment at the school than they were about him attending this retreat. It seemed like they'd allow him to stay enrolled if he went through "therapy". When Jeffrey's mother defended her son and said that she didn't think he needed therapy, the school expelled Jeffrey.

Here's another thing i noted.... The school chaplain put Jeffrey on the spot and directly asked him the question. It wasn't as if Jeffrey sought the chaplain's ear to volunteer this information. I don't know how comfortable Jeffrey is or was about his sexuality but I do know that when I was in high school i was extremely uncomfortable about people knowing. I can only imagine how I would feel being directly asked the question during a time when I was trying so hard to look "straight". That's the kind of fear that drove me to isolation, depression, and attempted suicide back in 9th grade.

What ever happened to "Don't Ask, Don't Tell"? Yeah, i know - high school isn't the Navy.

Friday, October 14, 2005

Children of Divorce

I never really talked much specifically about my parents divorce. I sort of mentioned it in an early post back in July called "Thinking About My Dad". I've probably referenced here or there in other posts about my attempted suicide which I've intended on posting more details about but never got around to it. (I will though, it's an interesting God-event in my life.) My parents divorced when I was about 11 years old and it was a huge contributor to my state of mind when I tried to kill myself a few years later.

Anyway, the reason I mention it is because I saw an interview on The Today Show yesterday with Matt Lauer (he's crazy cute, me thinks - sorry, i didn't mean to gross you out) speaking with Elizabeth Marquardt, author of "Between Two Worlds: The Inner Lives of Children of Divorce." Thanks to my trusty TiVo Series 2, I was able to rewind the interview and jot down a few notes that I found interesting:

**For those interviewed in the nationwide study answering the question, "I felt like a different person with each of my parents," 43% were from divorced families; 21% were from intact families.

**Matt Lauer said in response to that statistic, "These children were forced to take on two different personalities almost to fit in to each household that they had to go to..."

**Elizabeth Marquardt responded, "Right, and when they grow up it really becomes difficult for them to know how to be their whole true self with another person."

I found this interesting because I can affirm this in my experience. I chose to move from Hawaii away from my dad to live with my mom here in Southern California. It was difficult relating with my dad after that and it really was like I was a different person when on the phone with him. Granted, much of that had to do with me trying to cope with the divorce itself, but in terms of my personality I was definitely different. How much of this did I carry with me into adulthood? (Her book actually infers that children of divorced parents take alot into adulthood.) This is the first time that I've heard the suggestion that I learned to adopt a dual-personality at that young of an age - when they got divorced. I easily applied this to my secret sexuality as well. In both contexts, both the divorce and me being gay, I can see how they were both coping mechanisms for me and at the same time contributed to me being confused about my identity.

Another interesting quote from the interview was:

**Matt asked her about what other people say that, "Children are resilient. They will bounce back from a divorce. The effect perhaps is short term but not long term."

**Elizabeth responded with, "Simply not true. Divorce shapes children in their inner lives in lasting ways that turn up in young adulthood."

I can affirm this as well in my life. After I tried to commit suicide and survived during my freshman year in high school, I kind of blocked out the whole divorce thing until late senior year. After that, I thought about it alot. Even through my early college years, I found myself bitter with both my parents. These feelings, combined with my same sex attractions and also my developing faith life, had me feeling pretty torn - between three worlds even.

I'm sure there are some out there that would presuppose my same sex attractions are connected to the way I was raised and my parents' divorce.

Thursday, October 13, 2005

God Loves Freaks Like Me

Sometimes I just feel so..... un-normal. It's a familiar feeling actually. I look around at the people around me and I just realize that I'm not like them. Maybe it's baggage - in fact, i know it's just my baggage because it's not like the people around me do anything to make me feel like this. It's just something inside me that senses a kind of distance. It's like feeling like I'm an alien. I don't belong here. I don't belong in this body. I don't belong.

Now, of course that's silly because I've been and felt more connected now with people than I have for most of my life. I have friends that I feel connected with. I have family that I feel connected with. I know I'm loved. I have acquaintances that I'm nurturing to be friends. I'm gradually becoming more comfortable with the reality that I'm gay - and even talking more openly about it (within safe circles). I like living in this city that I'm in. I think I have a good balance between my social life with friends and taking time to be by myself. I know the grace of God and I love Jesus personally.

So why do I feel like a freak sometimes? Some would say it's a demon bothering me. Some would say it's hormones. Some would say I need to get laid. Some would say it's because of my sin. Some would say, 'yes, you are a freak'. Do I need to have a reason for why I feel different? I don't know. I just do. But maybe God can speak to me even as I am now. Maybe that's it. God loves even freaks like me! (LOL - i'm actually having this silly conversation in my head.)

Sigh. So . . . .

How can I redeem this post? Um.... oh, how about this: I'm realizing today (more like right now) that this journey of mine includes accepting myself the way I am. Regardless of the conclusions I come to regarding sexuality and faith and how I ought to live my life (yadda yadda yadda), nothing removes the fact that, because of Christ, I am acceptable - to myself, to God, and more than likely to my loved ones (and hopefully to you). Perhaps that's a rock solid enough for me to stand on.

Tuesday, October 11, 2005

Into the Shadows of Shame

There are some things that I know, without a doubt, are absolutely wrong. There are things that are most definitely sin - without debate. These are things that can only cause harm and draw all involved into the shadows of shame. These are things that I am capable of.

It has nothing to do with me being gay. It certainly has nothing to do with me being Christian. It doesn't even necessarily have anything to do with me being a man. Yet, I know that there is an absolute distinction between a loving relationship and a lustful encounter. No excuse can be made for such things - neither being gay nor even simply struggling with same sex attractions, nor being forgiven and under grace, nor having gone without sex for a lengthy period of time. There is no rationalization that can be made when certain actions clearly fall within the category of "sexual immorality".

We can engage in a dialogue about whether or not same sex loving monogamous relationships are acceptable to the Lord. Some may say that these relationships are acceptable because of its loving context. I would think that it's difficult for other people to conceive of such a thing - being more focussed on the same gender aspect of the relationship rather than acknowledging the loving aspect of the relationship. I have seen these kinds of relationships and what I find difficult is saying that what they say is love - actually isn't. How can an outside observer really measure what is in a couple's heart? If you spend enough time in relationship with these people, you will find it difficult to deny their genuine love for one another because you will see good fruit.

However, what I feel must be made clear is that there is a distinction between loving gay relationships and unloving sexual interaction. We really have to be honest with ourselves - are we connecting in love or are we colliding in lust? Now, the application of God's grace through Jesus Christ is definitely relevant because we are allowed to approach the Throne. But as we approach the Throne, we must do so honestly.

I am a sinner. There are things that I've done in my life that I am ashamed of. Things that I know do not fall under the category of love. These are things done either in my mind or in the physical world. I know what it's like to burn with passion. I know what it's like to desire something that is not of God. I know what it's like to experience the temptation of my flesh and to purposely ignore the cries of the Spirit so that I may indulge in only moments of pleasure. I know what it's like to flee and run and hide in the shadows afterwards, knowing that my sin shames me to the point of not being able to look at my Lord in the eye - much less at myself in the mirror. I know what it's like to wonder, "how in the world could God ever redeem me and how could God possibly use me for His will when I have such dirty hands and an impure heart?"

You see, there's this dynamic of realizing the ramifications of my sin. I know that I am forgiven and that I have grace available to me, but there are still consequences that I have to live through. I call this the "fall out" of my sin and it makes me cry out, "Lord, what have I done!?" I realize that i was completely selfish. In lust, it's more about what I can experience than what the other person feels and it's about if I can somehow get more. It's about me degrading the person - whether consensual or not - objectifying the person's body without any regard to whether or not the person is experiencing shame or not. I also realize that there are effects left behind after the sin. We are both left with shame - this is clearly evident when one of us quickly makes an exit. But what if the other person doesn't know how to handle that kind of shame? What if the other person can only cope by medicating the pain? More sex. Drugs. Violence. Suicide. I know, that even in my shame, the Lord is working in me - convicting me, restoring me, teaching me. But I don't know what's going on in the other person's heart or mind. What if I caused the domino reaction of instability in another person's life that caused or contributed to serious harm - or worse, made the person's heart that much harder towards God?

I can only leave such things in the Lord's hands. Yet, this is a burden that comes with the "fall out" of my actions. I know that this journey of mine takes me down a road consisting of thoughts I used to consider taboo. However, it's easy to mix these things up with things that are still taboo. If the Lord would lead me to it, I would want a life-long loving relationship with another person. But I must make that distinction between love and lust because I know that the Lord would never lead me down a road of such selfishness. It's not just my life at stake.

Sunday, October 09, 2005

Shattered Paradigms

The very notion of being Christian and gay seems like a paradox - two seemingly contradictory things that should not be together and most certainly cannot be true. But Jesus continues to shatter my paradigms, understandings, and interpretations. He reveals to me how confining my understanding of things has been. "You're missing the point," He tells me. It wasn't that I was putting God in a box. I'm the one who is in the box - that box of assumptions of what the world is like.

Jesus shattered the disciples' paradigms who were often 'missing the point'. He said that it's not just about the act of murder but rather the anger in one's heart that is subject to judgment. He said that it's not just about committing adultery but rather the lust harbored in the heart. He said that it's not about avenging 'Eye for an eye, and tooth for tooth' but rather turning the other cheek and giving to those who would ask/borrow/steal from you. He said that instead of accepting the commonly held notion of 'Love your neighbor and hate your enemy', rather 'Love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you'. Jesus shattered the Samaritan woman's paradigm when He said that God's true worshippers will neither worship at Mount Gerizim nor Jerusalem but rather in spirit and truth. The Lord shattered Peter's paradigm when He led him to enter the house of the Gentile centurion Cornelius (who had already been worshipping the Lord without Peter's validation) saying, 'Do not call anything impure that God has made clean.'

History tells us that some things that mankind so zealously believed were way off the mark. They were often 'missing the point'. And pride often prevented people from accepting a more accurate view of the world. The Earth revolves around the Sun and not the other way around. The world is actually round and not flat. Gentiles do have a place in the Kingdom of God with Israel. Women are not subservient to men and black people actually do have a soul. God does not live in houses made of stone and the Church is not the building.

Could conventional and traditional thought regarding being Christian and gay be wrong as well?

My Sole Responsibility

Am I telling people the truth? This question is one of the hardest things about this journey I'm on. God has pointed me in a direction and I'm walking it out. But what if I glance behind me and see others following along the path that I tread upon? What if I'm wrong? What if I'm being led astray - deceived? What if my journey causes harm? The risk I run with having my journey made somewhat public is that others could end up where I do. And that's kind of a frightening responsibility.

A good friend of mine noticed that I hadn't been writing on this blog recently as much as I used to. There are some days where I'll have alot to process and I'll be writing every day. Other times, i'll make a post once - maybe twice in a week. There are some days when I'll write three paragraphs, delete it, then write another three paragraphs about something else only to keep it as a draft and never post it. It's been a conscious decision for me not to blog if i don't actually have something to say. I'd hate to do this for the sake of doing it - just like i used to hate "going" to church simply for the sake of going. I think our lives ought to reflect purpose. And as we connect and interact with each other, let's affect one another - on purpose.

I realize that we each have our own responsibility. And I know that as I walk along side others in community - you and I - we each make our own decisions. We each walk with God on our own and we discern for ourselves what God says in our hearts. Yet it is my privilege to share that journey so that possibly I may serve as one potential means in which He may connect with others - and in that way, I can affect you in some way. And as those with whom I am in community with - you - share your journey with me, I can be affected. We are a community on a journey together - affecting each other through our relationships - on purpose.

So am I telling people the truth? I don't know. But at least I'm telling people about Jesus as He interacts with me. I'm simply sharing my process in light of my understanding of Him who is the Truth - Jesus. I am pursuing Him. And as long as I remember that this is my sole responsibility, then I can trust that any of us on this journey taking similar steps of faith will be on that same track approaching Christ.

So what have I concluded thus far on my journey? That God loves me as I am. A Christ-centered gay man. This leads to many more questions. What does it mean to be Christ-centered? What does it mean to be gay? What does it mean to be a man? What would it look like if I chose to be a Christ-centered gay man on purpose? Side A? Side B? Side X (Ex-Gay)? For too long I chose to believe what the mainstream church proclaimed - that despite grace, I ought to circumcise my sexuality. From what I've learned thus far, we are the ones who read into scripture the assumption of a standard for heterosexuality. But if I remove that assumption, then I discover that God is more concerned about how I love than who I love.

My journey is about preserving my sexuality while exploring the way God wants to transform how I express my sexuality in the context of honest love. It's not about me trying to make my faith fit into a nice little gay box that I create. It's about me being released from my box to live out my faith as I am so that I can be transformed to be more like Him. That's my truth. That's my journey.

Thursday, October 06, 2005

Taking A Bullet

Are there more people today that I would be willing to take a bullet for than there were last year?

Yeah, i think i can confidently say that there are. I've invested quite a bit of time over the past ten months building significant relationships, establishing new ones, and even nurturing a few existing relationships. (Sadly, no romantic relationships - yet!) Before, I never really considered the value I placed in relationships. Perhaps I was so focussed on not feeling connected with friends that I neglected to fully appreciate the friends that I did have. I guess you can say I took them for granted. Do I have the kind of relationships that I would be willing to die for? Take a bullet for? Place my life in harm's way for? Do I have relationships of substance that would absolutely devastate me if they were "gone" and I'd cry out "take me instead!"?

It's kind of scary actually to think how lonely I felt just a little over one year ago . . . .

It was a depressing time. It was also a self-focussed time. (And this was when I was in an ex-gay frame of mind - rejecting my sexuality!) But now that I have intentionally connected with people who would actively support me in my journey, I'm learning how powerfully transforming some relationships can be. These are good friendships with people who share similar passions, are refreshing to be around, and are willing to live out life together. These are friendships with people with whom I can laugh and joke around with, people I can establish Sunday or Friday traditions with, people with whom I can create history with. These are the kind of relationships that I value - that I'd die for - the kind that I chose to develop since they used to be so rare in my life.

It really was a choice for me. It was a choice for me to live out my faith in community with others. It was a choice for me to establish several different pockets of communities - people with whom I am the Church with and they with me. What better way to extend love than to live out a relationship with someone?

"This is how we know what love is: Jesus Christ laid down His life for us. And we ought to lay down our lives for our brothers." - 1 John 3:16

Yet there are many people in the mainstream church unwilling to do such a thing for people like me - gay Christians. Many of them choose not to acknowledge people like me as their fellow brother in Christ - a Christian. They choose not to love. But would these particular mainstream "church"-ians take a bullet for me?

"We love because He first loved us. If anyone says, 'I love God,' yet hates his brother, he is a liar. For anyone who does not love his brother, whom he has seen, cannot love God, whom he has not seen. And He has given us this command: Whoever loves God must also love his brother." - 1 John 4:19-21

I heard last night from the pastor of ODM that "it's easy to have a harsh opinion of someone when you are not in relationship with the person". It's true. I've said before that "issues" don't get so black and white once it becomes personal - or in other words, it's harder to condemn a person when we know someone personally who is experiencing the issue.

"A new command I give you: Love one another. As I have loved you, so you must love one another. By this all men will know that you are my disciples, if you love one another." - John 13:34-35

I think it's a choice for us all - to reach out and connect, to embrace someone we may disagree with, to establish a relationship with each other. It's this kind of lifestyle of love that we as the Church - the Body of Christ, a community of faith committed to living it out together - are marked by. Let's not simply proclaim that we'd take a bullet for our friends. As a community, let's live out our faith with each other as if we are taking a bullet for each other.

Sunday, October 02, 2005

Insights From A Visionary

There are those who walk a journey and there are those who look three hills in the distance and see what lies on the road ahead. The latter are the navigators. The visionaries. The ones who walk the journey with their heads lifted up taking note of where we've been, where we are, and where we need to go. They don't determine the path of the journey we're walking, but rather they point us in the direction we ought to go.

Justin Lee is one such visionary. He is a navigator for over 2,500 gay Christians all around the world registered at GayChristian.Net (GCN). A humble leader with a team of people, Justin is the founder and executive director of GCN. They are "dedicated to enriching the spiritual lives of gay, lesbian, bisexual, and transgendered Christians of every denomination". I have found this organization to be an incredible resource of information as well as a bridge connecting people all around the world that are exploring or living out faith in the context of being gay.

Justin gives a keynote address at the 2005 Evangelicals Concerned ConnECtion Conference that was so awesome I had to listen to it twice. With both humor and insight, he discusses three important issues that need to be addressed regarding the Church and Gay Christians, and he presents four factors that should mark the next generation of distinctly gay Christian ministries. As a friend of mine, I find Justin to be encouraging. As an orator, I find him to be hilarious and entertaining. As a visionary, I find Justin to be one who's eyes are fixed on Jesus - the author and perfector of our faith.

Listen to his keynote address entitled, "GLBT Christian Ministry: The Next Generation".

Thanks To A Friend

Big thanks to JJ - my awesome friend and fellow blogger over at "Christian, Gay, and Confused" - for the initial leads and links to the blogger hacks that helped me to reformat Two World Collision's template and to include the RECENT COMMENTS feature that you see to the right.

I hope everyone likes the new look!

Saturday, October 01, 2005

Being Happy With The Man In The Mirror

Five or six months ago, I wasn't happy. It's amazing for me to think that. Sure on the outside I put on the plastic smile and endured the surface conversations - "how are you?" "good, how are you?" "oh i'm good." - type stuff. I kept myself busy by working beaucoup hours (that's french for working lots and lots and lots of overtime). That was always easier for me - I had an excuse why I couldn't connect with other people..."I have to work." I didn't want to connect with people because I wasn't really connected to myself. I didn't like the person I saw in the mirror. I wasn't happy.

Jesus met me there at that place of personal and profound loneliness and said, "Remember Me." And He wooed me back . . . .

Our relationship was rekindled and He began to show me the transforming affect of relationship. Connection. Four months ago, when I began to challenge my previously held beliefs, it wasn't that I was questioning Him. It was He who was questioning the way in which I worshipped Him. It was like that praise and worship song by Matt Redman called "The Heart of Worship" that has a verse that says:

"I'm coming back to the heart of worship, it's all about You, it's all about You Jesus
I'm sorry Lord for the thing I've made it, when it's all about You, it's all about You Jesus"

He brought me to a place of trust. I had to learn to trust His love for me even when I looked in that mirror and didn't love who I saw. I began to realize that it's not about the person I see in the mirror. It's about Him. It's also about the person He sees in the mirror. This gave me the courage to confront the man He created - me. I had to face the part of myself that I learned to hate out of fear and public stigma. The Church taught me to hate myself for being gay. Jesus was teaching me to love myself regardless.

Last night, a buddy and I were a part of two different environments - both with very unhappy people. The first was a charity fundraiser for a hospital's new cancer center. It was a $150 per plate dinner for a bunch of suits and gowns at an auction. We were just decoration - we were dressed up in costumes to blend with the evening's theme and entertainment. As we looked around the room, we could see through the beauty and observed disconnected couples, distracted husbands, and superficial wives. Of course, this is a general statement (since we can't see a person's true heart) but there was definitely a sense of emptiness. Afterwards, we went to West Hollywood because I've never been and we happened to be close by. My buddy took me to a well frequented bar, we mingled a bit, then walked up and down the "gay strip". The street was full of people going from bar to bar to club to club - guys flirting and strutting and salivating and such, beautiful women dancing and flaunting awesome bodies.

Both my buddy and I saw the emptiness and loneliness of unhappy people in both these venues. Wealthy mucky-mucks and gay party-goers - both unable to connect and (I assume) having difficulty looking in the mirror. It's not a lifestyle I'm familiar with and so, forgive me, it's easy for me to judge. What I do know is that it helped me to realize the distinction between my journey and theirs. I'm not looking to live a "gay lifestyle" in the context of hooking up with guys for something meaningless.

The past four months, I've been connecting with real people - gay people, who have substance. These are people who have hopes and dreams and passions and interests. These are people who want something more, something real, and something lasting. Many of these people are Christian. Many of them are not. But they are becoming (and are) my friends. Connecting with Jesus allowed me to connect with myself. This in turn has allowed me to connect with others. Four months later, I can honestly say that I'm happy.