Wednesday, August 31, 2005

Happy Blog Day 2005!

Blogs. There are literally hundreds of thousands out there that comprise the blogosphere. Writing a blog can be therapeutic - an outlet for me to articulate raw thoughts. Reading blogs helps me to process my own thoughts by gaining insight from others. I think that there is incredible power in story telling because it gives people the means to connect, relate, and reflect.

Blog Day is a day (Aug. 31st) where bloggers recommend other blogs that are different from their own culture, point of view, and attitude. I like the concept of it and there's a bunch of instructions for what we're supposed to do, however, i'm not necessarily one to conform so I'll modify the task a bit to tailor it to my journey. Thanks to Gaurav at Bloogreen for letting me know about this and for recommending Two World Collision!

At the core of my journey is perhaps the pursuit of resolution - peace in the midst of a lifetime of internal conflict and frustration - my worlds colliding. Sure part of that is embracing honesty and openness, but to some degree it involves connecting with people who can relate. It's been incredible for me to chat with, blog comment with, and email with people who know the struggle of being gay and Christian. JJ is a wonderful person who is also on this journey and I recommend her blog at Christian, Gay, and Confused to really get a glimpse as to much of the raw frustration that we experience.

Another part of this journey includes the exploration of differing viewpoints. I started this blog two months ago to chronicle my process and discoveries because I came to realize that what I believed about homosexuality was one-sided. While I adamantly proclaimed the sinfulness of everything homosexual, I never really owned these beliefs. I only believed these things because it was simply the only thing i was taught and exposed to. I intentionally avoided anything related to Gay Christians because I assumed it to be a compromise from "real" truth and I didn't want to go down that road. So I owned the fact that this refusal to explore the "forbidden side" kept me from growing. My next recommendation is a blog at Gay Restorationist that I found to be refreshing. He is a man who has found resolution in being both gay and Christian but has to live with the reality of possible persecution in his denomination if people found out.

In honor and thanks to a frequent visitor of Two World Collision, I recommend a blog called True Servants. Ron is an awesome guy who (I think) believes in the traditional viewpoint that homosexuality is a sin but I've never seen him throw a stone. He's always been respectful towards the journey I'm on while sharing his insights of Scripture. On his blog he shares Scripture and challenges people to weigh in on their thoughts about it. Ron reminds me of what I believed for 13 years as a Christian before I started this journey into the "hot zone" - the forbidden territory of questioning church, interpretations, and paradigms.

I recently discovered an intriguing blog by Eddie over at Edge of Faith. Here's a guy who has completely jumped head first into the hot zone. It's not a gay-themed blog but he definitely shares fresh insights about exploring and living out faith in Jesus in ways that are outside the box. He's left the institutional church but is still nurturing his relationship with Christ.

Today, I discovered Zalm's blog at From the Salmon (through Brandon's blog at Bad Christian). Zalm's "Conversation Peace" post talks about pursuing "transformational conversations that point to reconciliation". This is relevant to all of us on this journey, as well as those willing to weigh in on the issue of homosexuality. He brings up the idea of planting "flags of resurrection" that I find interesting because it's the most recent piece of the puzzle that I feel God is leading me towards - a direction of helping others in my community enter this hot zone of dealing with (rather than ignoring) the conversation about homosexuality, faith, the Bible, the Church, and Jesus.

Happy Blog Day everyone! Challenge your paradigm because in doing so you will shape it.

Tuesday, August 30, 2005

The Rules Don't Change

Imagine a conservative evangelical "gay-friendly" church with gay Christians that modeled sexual boundaries to both gay and straight people. Is there one? I'm not talking about celibacy. I'm talking about genuine committed relationships. There's something that's really been bugging me lately.

I've spoken to a number of gay Christian couples who can verbally acknowledge that sex is a sacred thing. Our bodies are a temple for the Holy Spirit - sex creates a one flesh union between the two - yadda yadda yadda. There's also a movement of people advocating same-sex marriage saying that not only do gay people have a right to marry, but also that God can and would bless such a union. Fine. I'll concede that for the moment for the sake of exploring a broader point that I'm observing.

Here's the thing. If a committed gay relationship was just like a committed straight relationship in that both placed a high value on commitment, then wouldn't the guidelines for when sex was appropriate in the relationship be the same in both the gay and the straight relationship? In a straight relationship, it's typically accepted that pre-marital sex is a no-no. (This would be referred to as fornication). So then wouldn't it be logical to say that pre-marital sex in a gay relationship would also be unacceptable?

Why is it that "some" gay Christians embrace their acceptance in God's eyes by thinking that it's okay to have gay sex just because they are in a relationship? Relationship doesn't necessarily imply commitment and commitment doesn't necessarily imply covenant. If sexual activity were only acceptable within a marriage context, and marriage could be defined by a covenant between the three (God and the two individuals acknowledging that God has brought them together to be one), then wouldn't the acceptable thing in a gay relationship be to abstain from sexual activity until their relationship matures to the point of lifetime covenant?

Please note that I am not, at this moment, talking about the acceptability of gay relationships (please hold any comment regarding this because that would be off-topic). I'm talking about the fact that I'm frustrated - even irritated - by this double standard by "some" gay Christians who will simply have sex and claim that God blesses it just because they know that God blesses gay Christians. Being accepted as a gay Christian has nothing to do with whether or not sex is acceptable! I find it troubling when i speak to "some" gay Christians who tell me that they "feel" that God said that this is okay or that they "know" that this person indeed is the one that they have been waiting for his/her whole life and so it's okay to be having sex with the person after only two weeks, two months, or two years even though it's prior to establishing a covenant with each other.

This seems absurd to me. No wonder why "some" conservative straight Christians refuse to acknowledge gay people as Christians because of the fear and assumption of promiscuity among them. That God loves gay Christians cannot be used as an excuse to have sex. If we can acknowledge that sex is sacred and is reserved for those in a covenant relationship, then the rules must apply regardless of whether or not it's gay or straight. There needs to be sexual boundaries within His Church - both gay and straight.

A young straight couple out of high school is told not to fornicate - not to have sex until they are married. The same expectations should rest upon the gay couple. The gay couple ought to hold off from being sexually intimate until their relationship has matured into a covenantal context. Again, i'm saying this in the context that sex is sacred.

I think that "some" gay Christians abuse their freedom because they are so tired of having the Church say that they can't be Christians and so they refuse, with sinful pride, to listen and follow guidelines for holy living. As Christians, both gay and straight, we are called to be set apart - holy. The rest of the world who choose not to yield to Jesus as Christ live with indulgence. We, as Christians, both gay and straight, are not to live that way. Sex is sacred and the very act itself should be honoring to the Lord by mirroring His covenant of love and faithfulness towards us.

Granted, I'm saying all this with what some may view as an ultra conservative viewpoint in regards to sex (of which I don't apologize for) and maybe I'm simply a romantic but I just think the standard should be consistent. If being a gay Christian meant that I can have gay sex without restriction, then I would strongly plant my position on the side that says no. However, being a gay Christian does not imply the acceptance of gay sex outside of a covenantal context. Part of being and growing as a mature Christian means that we make the distinction between love and lust. We put off self-indulgence and we put on self-control. It just seems clear to me. If it's right for straight people to abstain, then it's right for gay people to abstain.

Note: If you're going to weigh in on this, remember that I'm not talking about whether or not it's okay to be in a gay relationship. I'm saying that for those who do believe that it's okay should at the very least also acknowledge that our view of the acceptability of sex for gay people should be the same as for straight people.

Sunday, August 28, 2005

A Chat With My Dad

Is it weird that my dad encouraged me to get a boyfriend?

The other day, i was talking to him on the phone. If you need a little background, see a previous post i made a month ago here. Since he still hasn't told me that he's gay, I figured it might make it easier if we talked more often about me being gay and were comfortable about it. So i told him that i've been going to a "gay-friendly" church for the past two months and that i've really been enjoying it. He mentioned to me that he's been to two gay churches in Hawaii (that's where he lives). He visited one and now goes to the second one - an Episcopal church. (On a side note, I'm way excited that he's even going to church at all!).

Anyway, he casually asked if i'm going to get a boyfriend. I told him, "no not really, i just have friends right now". I could tell he was getting more comfortable about the subject because the next thing he said was "why not? you've graduated...your single...." in a joking way. It was kinda weird having this conversation with him - in a good way, that is. I like that we can talk about it comfortably because maybe he'll feel like he can outright tell me that he is gay (without the subtle hints like telling me that he goes to gay bars, he has gay friends, and that he goes to a gay church). On the other hand, it's kinda weird. I mean, this is my dad. This is the guy who was emotionally distant for most of my life and we hardly had the kind of father-son relationship where we actually talked about things beyond the surface 'how are you?', 'how's work?', 'how's school?' type of things.

I do want him to feel like he can tell me though. The more I'm open with him about myself, I notice that he gets that much more comfortable with me. There used to be such a wall between us. The past three years has been the best between us ever (because i told him about me which i think brought down some walls). Perhaps, i really want him to tell me about himself being gay is because maybe i'll get to know him in a way that he's never allowed any other family member. Maybe i'll get to know him, really, for the first time. Hmm...maybe i really don't know who my father is....

I was so bitter, angry, and resentful of him for so many years before all this. It must have been so lonely not to tell us (the family) about him being gay. No wonder he was emotionally distant. I'm understanding more and more now. The really kewl thing is that we are now ending our phone conversations with "i love you".

We'll see how things progress. He'll be in Southern California for a month in December so hopefully we'll get to talk about these kinds of things. Maybe i'll take him to church with me.

Thursday, August 25, 2005

It's Not So Simple Anymore

I remember when I sincerely hoped for a wife. It was only this past June. What happened? Two months ago I began to question. Wonder.

I used to be sure. It was about a man and a woman. That was simple. It made sense. And I knew that God had a woman set aside just for me. I would love her. She would love me. We'd have children and we'd raise them together. Hope.

A part of me feels like i've lost that - that small glimmer of hope. What am I really hoping for on this journey of mine? Am I hoping for a man to share my life with? Am I hoping for a life of always having to justify my decisions, choices, inclinations, orientation?

Now it's so much more complicated. It's not so simple anymore . . . .

Is it okay to be in a committed relationship? Am I supposed to be celibate? Is there a difference between commitment and covenant in a gay relationship? At what "stage" is it okay to be sexually intimate?

I look at a couple, a guy and a girl, and I know that their interaction with each other is natural. It seems to fit for them. There's no questioning or wondering. It just is. The chemistry is there and no one doubts whether or not they should be together. This grieves me.

I want to be able to have the same thing. I want chemistry in a context that feels right and natural. I would want it with a woman if I had the slightest hope that it were possible. Did I once have that hope and I simply lost it? Am I lacking faith for not trusting God for it? Am I not believing Him enough that He can and will transform me? But does He need to transform me? Am I okay the way I am? If i'm born with a sinful nature, does that sinful nature include my inclinations and orientation for a certain kind of intimacy? Or did He create me like this on purpose?

I read about gender complementarity and it makes me sad. It proclaims an order to things. Male and female. God and His Church. Christ and His Bride. It fits. There's unity. But this makes me feel like I don't fit. What the hell am I supposed to do? I can't change myself. I can't force feelings, inclinations, or an orientation that I don't have!


Sorry. I'm kinda at a weird place right now.

It's so easy for a straight person to say that male and female is normal. Right. Designed. What does that say of me? It makes me a little bitter. They can say it's normal because that's what they feel. Is what I feel not normal because they don't feel it? A straight person can tell me to pray and deep down the Spirit will tell me that I was meant to be straight. But isn't that deep down examination inherently biased by the person's orientation? A gay person can tell me that deep down he knows he's gay.

I know what I feel. I know what feels natural to me. But I don't want a subjective kind of love to where it's okay to be in a relationship because it "feels" right. I care about what God thinks and wants. He's my God. That's why I need to know what "is" right and okay in His eyes. There are lots of people that can tell me what they think - and I respect and honor all of it. But at the end of the day, it's me and Him. He's the one I worship. He's the one that makes me happy.

He knows how much I want a companion. He knows how much I want physical intimacy. He's got to do something. He's got to give me some options that I can be sure He's okay with.

I'm not "in love" with anyone right now. But I want to be. Who to love? How to love? Why to love? This seems so complicated. I'm not trying to figure out if i'm gay. I'm trying to figure out how to How can I be me in a way that is also consistent with God's intent, desire, and will for creating me in the first place?

Tuesday, August 23, 2005

Those 'Loving and Safe' Christians

“I believe in loving my neighbor, but part of that love means not condoning detrimental personal and social behavior. I believe that by boldly proclaiming the Truth, hurts will be halted, hearts will be healed, and lives will be saved.”

Ah, the soothing words of the second greatest commandment ... "Love your neighbor as yourself, but..."

I found a lovely article from CBN that said this quote was written on the T-shirt of Christian students who wore it on campus for "A Day of Truth", the day after another group of students held "A Day of Silence" on April 13th. "A Day of Silence" marked a day when "students will stay silent the whole day, to show what they call the silencing experienced by the homosexual community."

I know. That pisses me off too.

Silencing. To be unheard. To be unacknowledged, devalued, misunderstood. Fear kept me silent. It still does in some contexts. Why would I want anyone to know that I was gay? The fear of hostility, rejection, and possibly harm is enough to keep any fragile, struggling, and confused teenager (or adult) silent. Even on a "Day of Silence" to shout out loud about the experience of being gay on campus, the Bible is stuffed down their throats as a demonstration of love (and mockery).

If you can stomach it, read the article and notice the loving and "safe" tone of the article. Is it possible to say the words "I love you" while slapping the person in the face? Can a person really say that he or she is a good and righteous person who knows the "Truth" and the "Way" while ignoring and even mocking the pain of those they're preaching to? With an unsafe and hostile tone, the article mocks the efforts of GLSEN (Gay, Lesbian, Straight Education Network) for promoting "No-Name Calling Week" and for designating "safe places" in schools where "students can go in private to talk about same-sex feelings". As if it's bad to tell students not to call each other names? As if it's bad to have a place for students (who don't have a safe place in their own homes or churches) to go to talk about confusing feelings.

Is it any wonder why there are so many people in the homosexual community that have been burned like this by those "loving and safe" Christians? I used to be like that. One of my closest and life-long friends is a lesbian. We went through high school together. We went through college together. We joined a co-ed fraternity together. I was a Christian. She became involved with a transgender individual (excuse me if I'm using the terminology wrong). She didn't know I was gay. She was essentially telling me and the world that she loved this woman who considered herself to be a man. Fearful of "outing" myself to my closest friend, I fell back to my Christian foundation - "It's wrong."

It's wrong to love like that. If you "love" the wrong way, then it must not be love and it certainly isn't right, n'est pas?


Something came between us after that. I came between us. Me and my righteous faith. Since then, she's always had a hard time with the concept of God - that loving Creator who wants to save her.

We're good now though. Still friends. She knows I'm gay but the last she heard, I was way in the closet and pretty much in denial. She was sad for me. She knew the conflict that I experienced between my faith and my same sex persuasion. She knew how much it tore me up. She doesn't yet know about the recent journey i'm on or about the gay-friendly church that i've been a part of the past month and a half. She'd love it actually and it'd be a great way for her to meet a God that truly loves her that isn't represented by those other "loving and safe" Christians.

It's tough to be afraid of Christians. Being a Christian myself, it's tough knowing that people are afraid of Christians. It's hard for me to approach one that I know is hostile to anything "homosexual". Even if he or she doesn't know about me, the hesitation comes in knowing that this person doesn't love a part of me. And that comes between us. This person will always have a limit as to how much of Christ's image he or she can reflect towards me. Even if the intent is to "be a witness" to me, there's always so much that I can allow myself to receive. Is it pride on my part? Maybe, but that's not the point. The point is that he or she has a limit to his or her effectiveness in representing Christ to me because I doubt the person's sincerity of love. I'm already a Christian. How much more ineffective would this person be towards my life-long lesbian friend who's already been burned too many times by these "loving and safe" Christians?

A fellow blogger makes a post about this very issue regarding those Christian bumper sticker drivers.

What does it mean to be a truly loving and safe Christian? Is condemning someone in order to make sure that they don't get saved a part of the Great Commission that I missed? (Or perhaps it's a pseudo-Christian publicly endorsing the assassination of a world leader or his warning that Florida should watch out for hurricanes or terrorist bombs because of homosexuals - i know, i know, i couldn't get this far down the blog without making some kind of reference to Pat Robertson).

I believe in loving my neighbor, and demonstrating this love means being sensitive to those who want to love too. I believe that by boldy proclaiming the Truth that I don't know all of the truth except that Jesus loves me and us, hurts will be halted, hearts will be healed, and lives will be saved.

Sunday, August 21, 2005

Being Used Through The Process

There is nothing in Scripture or in my experience to indicate to me that I have to be fully ready and fully equipped to be used by the Lord. I may be on this journey, and it will take a long while to process through and sort things out, but I don't believe that God would have me sit idle. There's too much work to be done.

For 13 years of being a Christian and struggling with same sex attractions, there were times when it was paralyzing. The guilt and shame and secrets kept me in darkness - unknown - immobilized to serve. But as I grew in my knowledge of the Lord and of His Word, experiencing His simple but powerful grace, He enabled me to take a step out of my own self-imposed prison and opened my eyes to other people around me that were in dire need of being free from their self-imposed prisons. There are so many people around me that are like me - either with the same, similar, or even different struggles - but we all have guilt and shame from whatever binds us. So i saw God use me to help people along even though i myself had one foot in the darkness of shame and one foot in the light of grace. The irony is that in my shame, I thought i was alone . . . .

There are times when I feel so unqualified to serve Him. I'm not righteous - in my flesh that is. I try to be loving but I do find myself looking at the outward appearance rather than a person's heart sometimes. I try to be generous with friends but I do find myself unwilling to give of my heart (or money) to a homeless person sometimes with an assumption of what he'll 'probably' do with it. I try to resist lust but I do find myself entertaining it in my mind. I try to grow in my knowledge of the Word but I do find myself neglecting it sometimes. There are things that I've done in my life that I am truly ashamed of.

There are times when I wonder how God could ever use a person like me. Then i realize, God is looking to use a person exactly like me.

God has been showing me that I am not righteous but He is. In Christ, He makes me righteous. He makes me qualified. This makes me useful for His purposes. This frees me from my shame because it was my shame that told me that I'm useless, unlovable, and untouchable. Now that I'm useful, loved and lovable, and very much worthy to be touched - since Christ did these very things, then perhaps I can go out. Perhaps I'm ready enough. Perhaps I can serve Him as I am while He continues that refining process in me.

As I look back in hindsight, He did this for me all throughout the past 13 years. It's always been a tug of war between feeling like a can't serve Him and then being used by Him. I started this blog a little over a month ago thinking that I was entering a process of exploring all the different sides of being gay and Christian. I'm now realizing, that I entered that process 13 years ago.

God has worked in me and through me, teaching me about His love and His grace, and He's given me purpose and importance. He's shown me that He needs me and that there is nothing I've done or will do that can disqualify me from serving the Lord in worship and from serving His Body in fellowship. He needs me in the sense that He's given me an assignment (many over the years) and He wants me to respond. There's work to be done.

There's a reason why He preserved my life and made me survive my suicide attempt in 9th grade (before I was a Christian). There's a reason why He preserved my life when I totalled the car and stepped out only to see a metal bubble around where my head was but the rest of the roof smashed. There's a reason why He preserved my life when I wanted to die three years ago and told Him to take my last breath as I slept one last time (honestly believing that He would), but then to receive my very first dream from God (which was of me walking through a house full of people, telling a boy in a cage that Jesus will be his friend, then walking up a staircase passing out flyers), then to wake up in the morning taking a gasp of air (in contrast to my request for Him to take my last breath).

In all of these moments where He could have taken my life but didn't, He always had the same message for me. He's not done with me yet. He's not done with the process. He's not done with using me. I gave Him my life 13 years ago this month. My life is and has been in His hands. There may be times when I still want to die - to be released from the internal conflict. But I know that even in the midst of that internal conflict, I am still valuable and I am still known - and I am still qualified enough to be used by Him for whatever assignment He would give me. There's work to be done. There's work for me to do.

Christ died and completed things - for me, for His Church, for this world. It is finished, but it's not over.

Thursday, August 18, 2005

A Night with the Ladies

I love lesbians. Seriously. Some of them can be so much fun! Especially the ladies at The Tab! I spent the evening with about 15 women (more mature in age than I) and I just had a blast. (There was one other guy among us). My cheeks still hurt from smiling and laughing. Way fun!

A friend's daughter was in a six week summer youth program that prepared kids and teenagers for a broadway show (which was tonight). She's 11 years old and I love her! She comes with her mom to our weekly small group and she is very much a part of the fellowship. We all came to support her.

The show was fantastic. The kids were so cute - singing and dancing broadway tunes, acting and doing their thing. I was so impressed. I ought to go to more broadway shows. They're fun! After the show, it was evident that all the kids and teens really established a great camaraderie with each other by the way they all supported and applauded each other as everyone was introduced by name and honored with a certificate. I decided that I want my kids to do this too! (er - that is, Lord willing, when I have kids).

It's fascinating to me watching my friend's daughter. She is very mature for her age. She laughs with such joy. In small group she shares prayer requests. She prays regularly for others. She reconciles with those she has disagreements with. She recognizes genuine and sincere people (her age) and chooses her friends wisely. She is down to earth and approachable both to her peers and to adults. She apologizes to those she wrongs. She's respectful. It's apparent that she was raised well - and i told my friend this tonight. Oh yeah, one more thing....she's being raised by two lesbians. My friend has a "partner" and they are in a committed relationship.

Is it wrong for gay or lesbian couples to raise children together? I've seen incredibly happy families - especially this particular one. My friend and her partner are wonderful women who both love God. The daughter loves God as well. She likes boys and is encouraged in every way to be good and responsible - but never is she discouraged from liking boys in general. I know of some Christians that have the assumption that gay parents consciously influence the preference of the children so that they are raised to be gay. That's so not true! Gay or lesbian parents recognize that no one can be told how or who to be attracted to - and so the children of such parents are accepted regardless of what their preference is. I am, of course, only speaking about the gay or lesbian parents that I have met and know (i can't speak generally).

Another new friend tonight announced that she's pregnant with child. She also has a lesbian partner. Perhaps a few years ago, I would have been concerned for the child - having to be raised in a homosexual environment. That was pretty arrogant of me. These women are a community. They support each other. They are happy together. They worship and pray with each other. They love each other.

I'm not so concerned for the children of gay or lesbian parents anymore.

Tuesday, August 16, 2005

Position or Process

Anyone can make a good argument for a position. However, trying to prove something true or right could potentially cause a person to lose sight of the bigger picture. There are more important things than simply being right.


People disagree. That's a fact. It's a reality we live with. But sometimes a person can be such an advocate, with an insincere 'I want to help you know the real truth' mask, that they don't even realize that the relationship with their victim - oops, i mean friend - is at jeopardy. I think that a huge problem in the Church today is that it simply doesn't know how to disagree with itself . . . .

Conservative. Liberal. Pro-life. Pro-choice. Peace. War. Gay marriage. Celibacy. We all believe what we believe for what ever reason. The problem is when fellowship is broken with those who disagree with the 'position' and even going so far as disowning the 'brother' or 'sister' from the Body of Christ itself. He believes this so he's not a Christian. She believes that so she's not a Christian. Not a good one at least.

I was listening to a friend the other day talk about his suspicions that an aunt could be a lesbian. He was practically confused because he knows her to be a Christian. They have had spiritual conversations. They've worshipped together. He knows that she is born again. But - she might be gay? Is that possible? What does this mean now? Is she still Christian? Is she a gay Christian? Is she still family? This is the kind of thing that shifts and shapes paradigms - when it's too close to home to stand firmly on a 'position'. It's easy to advocate and/or throw stones when a person is less connected to the opposite position. But when a loved one is gay but also Christian (or on the other side when a loved one is straight but also Christian) - it calls the question, it forces the issue.

Are you going to stick to your position out of righteous truth or will you take a step back for the sake of the relationship and attempt to understand the other side with proper grace?

It takes a process. This process includes a reassessment of one's own beliefs. It includes looking at all sides of an issue - being educated and informed objectively and seeing if one's own beliefs change, are modified, or are strengthened. This process also leads to sensitivity with others who disagree. It's not simply black and white because when a person genuinely examines all the angles, the discovery is made that there are good points to be made on any side. Some points may seem a little shaky but at least the process allows a person to respect how another person can come to a potentially different conclusion from oneself.

We may disagree but we can preserve the relationship. The process changes the way we disagree.

In the past five days, i've spoken to a variety of people with differing positions. One says that it's okay to be gay in a loving and committed context. One says that it's okay to acknowledge being gay but celibacy is required. One says that it is not okay to be gay and that transformation is necessary prior to entry into Heaven. One says that he simply doesn't know but it's better not to do anything just to play it safe. A blog reader commented that i should just get 'laid' already and moving on with life will get easier (- it was too funny to delete). The significant thing about each of them is that they all truly and genuinely love Jesus and worship Him sincerely.

I've asked alot of questions - to God, to friends. Yet, for me it's not about the answers friends give me because I'm not going to conclude my own belief because of what one particular person told me. It's not about the convincing argument. It's about engaging in this process - not just for me - but for their sakes as well. I believe that it's just as important for those in my community to engage this process with me. It's not just me on the journey, it's my community on the journey. In my opinion, the process we engage that stimulates our relationships is more important than the positions that we may disagree on. I'll leave 'Truth' in God's hands to reveal.

Besides, I trust Jesus enough to guide each of our process so that, in the end, we become more God worshipping people who are much more loving towards each other.

Sunday, August 14, 2005

Purpose and Passion

On my way to church this morning, I was asking God to show me what He wants me to do. I want him to make it clear to me. Even in my public ministry, things don't seem so clear to me as they used to. Perhaps it's because i'm a bit burnt out and am anxiously waiting for my two weeks time off in the beginning of September (I'm moving to a new apartment and will use the time to settle in then relax). What does He want from me? What does He want of me? It's funny how sometimes a church message can be so relevant and timely.

We had a special guest speaker at church today that had a message especially relevant to what i've been going through the past few weeks. The timing was interesting considering last night's blog post. I'm trying to figure out how this whole journey that i'm on effects my public ministry and what He wants me to do (but i'm also owning up on the fact that I don't necessarily want God to use me as a bridge builder between the mainstream church and the 'gay' christians because I know that I can expect hostility).

Below are some of the notes that I wrote from this morning's message:

*What is God calling me to do? God created me 'with' purpose and 'on' purpose.
*When I discover my purpose, passion is birthed.
*Gifts and abilities are given to enable me to fulfill the purpose that is fueled by passion.
*I discover the gifts when I am out fulfilling my purpose. They come when I need them. They won't come if i'm just waiting to go out until I receive them. The gifts get manifested as I'm on the journey.
*Faith keeps me on course towards my purpose.
*Since I am made in the image of my Creator, I am also meant to exercise creativity. It begins with thought, articulated in word, then executed in action. My mind needs to be silenced of the shame and guilt so that I can begin to think creatively - in ways that i've never thought before. Then my words are articulated to manifest the thoughts and ideas.
*Freedom is necessary to creativity. Creativity is stifled in the Church because of legalism, judgmentalism, and control.
*The success of my purpose is dependent on the ability to overcome failure and resist opposition. Sometimes pain blinds me from perceiving God's presence. God is more committed to the success of my purpose than I am. He is there in the midst of opposition.

I feel like God may be lining things up for me in my life and ministry. I'm afraid of what it might mean. I'm afraid of how it will effect my public ministry and my ministry partner. I'm afraid of what taking a position on 'this side' may mean.

Part of my spiritual gifts includes being able to see things before they are. My ministry partner and I are very much both visionaries. It can be exciting. I guess right now, the fear and doubt is in not being able to see what it is God's doing and knowing if it's the right direction. That's probably why i feel it's so important that i have clarity. I know i don't necessarily need clarity right now. Faith keeps me on course towards my purpose.

But what is my purpose in context to my journey? What is my purpose in context to my public ministry? Am I even on course? If purpose births passion, then maybe this is why I feel like my passion has been on hold for the past several weeks.

Here's one thing I have been able to discern. While I may have moments of wondering what i'm doing here among 'these gay people' (i know, i know, i'm one of them), I have not sensed any prompting from the Spirit in my spirit that I should not be there. I know this much .... i'm supposed to be on this journey.

Saturday, August 13, 2005

A Foot In Two Worlds

I was sitting on a park bench with some friends today. It was the day of the church's community family fair and it had just finished. Earlier that day, we all had been helping out and meeting new people. We just finished cleaning up when we were there at the bench. We all laughed together. We encouraged each other. We honored the Lord together. It was good to feel connected.

I'm still getting used to being around a group of people that all know I'm gay. I'm feeling much more free to just be who I am. In the mainstream church context, there's always something I'm holding back. However, with these friends at this new church, I've got nothing to hide because they already accept me.

I will admit, though, that a part of me is still concerned about the mainstream church. My public ministry involves me interacting with many mainstream churches in the city. Today, I was filling balloons with helium and giving them to families walking by. I could tell that while many of them were gay or lesbian families, others were also heterosexual families that just came by to check out the fair. It was a very positive atmosphere. I wondered if possibly some of these people may recognize me from one of my public ministry's activities. This is relevant because regardless of how free I personally feel in this context - out 'there' on the fringes, the reality is that my association with 'the gay community' does and will effect my public ministry as a whole - either positively or negatively.

For many of you who have been keeping up with this blog over the past several weeks (thank you by the way!), you know that my struggle is not about me trying to figure out whether i'm 'gay' or not. That's never been a doubt. However, one of the issues that I contend with is how i'm supposed to live this out - both personally and in ministry. The mainstream church is hostile to the 'gay' church. But that's where my public ministry is - in the mainstream. I'm starting to really like this 'gay' church, but what would it look like for me to serve there?

I guess right now I'm looking for a bit of clarity and direction for personal ministry. I'm not talking about leadership, but rather i'm talking about simply serving the Lord. Maybe this is premature. I haven't exactly come to any concrete conclusions for this journey of mine because i'm not finished examining what i set out to examine. But from what i've seen so far, I cannot deny that these people in this particular 'gay' church are indeed my brothers and sisters in Christ. The dilemma is that the mainstream church doesn't.

I feel like i have a foot in two worlds. I'm really hoping that God is not going to use me as a bridge builder between the two because I'm not sure I'm ready to handle that kind of hostility yet.

Friday, August 12, 2005

An Honest and Honorable Faith

Gay. It's ironic that a word used centuries ago (in Old English, Old French, and perhaps German) that meant happy, merry, or full of joy and now coined to refer to homosexuals (as early as the 19th century) doesn't much describe me. Being gay in the new use of the word doesn't really make me gay in the old use of the word.

It's not that i'm not happy. I have been happy. It's just that being gay isn't typically what makes me happy. I'm joyful when i worship God. However, my experience of being gay in the Church has been pretty desolate. For over a decade in the Church, it's been a lonely life of not being known. But being gay doesn't fully describe the person I am.

I am a Christian. I believe and have accepted Jesus as my Lord and Savior. My faith is in Him and so He shapes the person I am. Love. Joy. Peace. Patience. Kindness. Goodness. Faithfulness. Gentleness. Self-Control. These are the things that more accurately describe me. These are the things that shape the way I interact with other people in this world. But does it change my sexual orientation? Or does it simply change how I interact with others sexually?

From promiscuity to commitment. From lust to love. From meeting my needs to meeting our needs. As a gay Christian, I can still bear the fruit of the Spirit. Am I judged by who I love or what I love or how I love? Is not a heterosexual judged by the same standards?

This journey for me isn't about wanting to be gay and happy. I'm quite confident that it's entirely possibly to be gay and just as lonely. I suppose i'm more concerned about discovering how I can live out my faith honestly and honorably. To live out my faith honestly means that I cannot deny a component of the way I am. To live out my faith honorably means that I can express love in all contexts in a way that expresses something sincere and genuine.

Can a heterosexual Christian do the same towards me? Can a straight "brother" honestly and honorably love me as I am? If God knew what He was doing when He created each of us, is it possible that He allowed me and others in His Church to be attracted to the same gender as a way of refining the Church's love for each other? Could it be that God's opposition to homosexuality in Scripture was to the way they were 'not loving' each other - expressions of broken intimacy in lust.

It's a lonely experience for some gay believers in the mainstream Church because some straight believers don't love us properly. Can a straight person love a gay person like me, not because I'm gay but because God first loved me? God's love for me is unconditional. So why is the mainstream Church's love towards me so conditional?

Tuesday, August 09, 2005

Questioning The Answers

Being objective is harder than i thought. Especially when I want to conclude that committed, covenantal, monogamous, and loving gay relationships are not a sin. I know I've got alot of questions .... questions that i pose in this blog as well as in conversations with new and old friends. I'm realizing, however, that the thing that is causing me to grow the most - yes, even causing me to grow closer to Christ - is the journey of asking these questions and not in the revelation of answers.

I'm sure the answers will come. God will grant me understanding in His full timing. But it's in questioning the answers I previously held dear that has allowed me to go down this road. At first, i was scared to go down this path of what seemed like a "crisis of faith" (it sometimes still scares me), but i'm not as afraid because i don't view it as a crisis - i see it as a "coming of faith". I believe that this journey of seeking the Lord's heart and intent for me, as well as seeking the Lord's Truth, is the very thing that will strengthen my faith.

Brandon hosts an awesome blog called BadChristian.Com. His most recent post talks about these very things - explaining why he started his blog and why it's called "Bad Christian". I encourage all of you to make your way there. It's not a "gay-themed" blog per se, but his process for thinking about "the Church" as a whole and the things we do as "local churches" is incredibly refreshing. Reading today's post helped make things a little more clear about my own process and journey of asking questions.

A few days ago, I had the blessing of speaking to Justin, the Executive Director and Founder of GCN - Gay Christian Network, on the phone. He believes that committed gay relationships are not a sin. I've found GCN to be balanced with a whole community of people with differing views - some who believe as Justin does, others who believe that we should be celibate (see The Great Debate here), and yet others who simply don't know.

I just read and took notes from an essay that Justin wrote that supports his position. Next I will read and take notes from an essay that Ron wrote that supports the position of celibacy for homosexuals. I'm going to start analyzing each side (in addition to utilizing the other resources i've discovered) while praying through each point for myself and so you will most likely see my process through this on this blog from time to time.

As I said, being objective is harder than I thought. I've read Justin's position and he makes so many awesome points. And I want it to be right. But I know that Ron will also make some awesome points as well. In fact, analyzing both sides like this will most likely drive me crazy from a myriad of great points and ideas and prooftexts supporting both sides. However, as Justin advised me on the phone, I need to study and pray through this on my own. And as Brandon suggests in his blog, I need to question the answers - even if they are the answers that I want to hear.

My hope is that in this process and journey, I can find peace in this conflict where my two worlds collide.

Sunday, August 07, 2005

Stepping Outside the Walls

It's so much more comfortable in the 'familiar' isn't it? Familiar friends, familiar surroundings, familiar conversation seems to us 'normal'. We are used to 'familiar'. It's safe. We know what to expect. We know what doesn't upset the cart.

It's refreshing to me when a church steps outside the walls of its building and goes into the unfamiliar. I've been wanting, for a long time now, to find some way to connect with loved ones enduring AIDS or HIV. Not through some program or ministry or because of a godly agenda or anything. I just want to connect and get to know them. (That - to me - is ministry by the way). I found out through the grapevine that one particular church in the city (not considered a 'gay church' by any standard but very much sensitive to loving this and all communities), was partnering with the AIDS/HIV clinic in hosting the annual picnic for adult and kid patients. In speaking to the woman organizing it, there was a need for someone to help transport food from their church to the park where the picnic was to be held so I made myself available to serve.

A few days ago, she called me to keep today's picnic in prayer because at the time some of the parents in the church were somewhat concerned about having their kids around some of the homosexuals. We prayed together. Today was the picnic and it was all great. There didn't appear to be any outward conflict, however, i'm sure some (not all) of the people were a bit cautious. There was a pretty good turn out and there was a good mix of church people, homosexuals (noticeably so), kids, those with AIDS and HIV.

When we finished unloading all the food and it was a time of just hanging out, I noticed that I found myself standing around with the other church people. We all just looked around and observed the different kinds of people. People with strange (oops, I mean uniquely colored) hair. People who were a bit eccentric. People with (what i call) the 'gay accent'. People with kids. People of different ethnicities. You couldn't really tell who had AIDS/HIV and who didn't except for a few. As i stood with the other church people, just looking around, all huddled up in a group - I couldn't help but think how separated the group seemed.

I do think that this was an awesome thing that this church was doing. It was this church's attempt at stepping outside their walls. But some of the people, though physically at the park, still were instinctively inside the walls of their comfort zone. I decided to break out - away from the group. Mingle.

I met some really interesting and awesome people. I met people with passion. I met people with needs. One guy has had HIV for 20 years! The evolving medicine really has made a difference in extending the life span of those infected - albeit very expensive. I also met a great guy who had been infected who leads three groups for those on Crystal Meth. In talking with him for awhile, i had just assumed that he was gay until it finally dawned on me that he had been infected through needles and the groups he was referring to was actually a 12 step program. As i hugged and shook hands and talked with many many people, I began to see just how much the Church misses out on the real ministry of relationships when they stay within their walls - either the walls of their building or the walls of their comfort zone.

It was a refreshing day of meeting new friends. I'm looking forward to getting to know many of them more!

Friday, August 05, 2005

The World Less Lonely

It's amazing how much being heard can make a person feel less lonely in the world. One of the loneliest places in the world for me has been the Church. It wasn't always that way. In fact, I came to Christ in the first place partly because it was where people knew my name. If only it was a place where people knew who I was.

I know it takes iniative and effort to make oneself known in a group. We've gotta be willing to engage people in order for people to mutually get to know each other. But there's a fear involved in revealing too much or the wrong things to certain people. It's definitely not something you just bring up in casual conversation. However, it's in casual conversation where you begin to discern whether or not a person may be safe to tell or not. The gay jokes can be pretty tough to hear at times but they're bearable. The really hard part is to listen to people in church speak with such disgust about those homosexuals.

And so, I'd think to myself...."that's one person i will never be able to tell."

I was saved when I was 16 years old. As a Christian, I could never tell anyone that I was attracted to guys for 9 years. Telling someone in church meant that I would be an outcast. I couldn't tell the pastor because that would mean I wouldn't be "allowed" to serve Christ in ministry anymore. I couldn't tell people in small group because I wouldn't be able to go to Bible study anymore. I couldn't tell anyone in church because the word will get out and then everyone would know and so I wouldn't be able to go to church anymore.

Can't tell anyone. I want to keep going to church. At least those are the kinds of thoughts that would keep me from telling anyone. And so, i'd remain hidden.

Between me and Jesus, I knew He loved me. But how could i ever love myself when my own "fellow" Christians didn't. I know the truth is that many of them did and/or do love me - at least the part of me that I showed to them. Another reason why I came to Christ back then was because I needed a family. At the time, my own family was pretty emotionally distant so the Church served as my spiritual family. How could I endure being rejected by them too?

Eventually, I found people in the church that I could talk to. It was great. What a release it is to have someone else know about this one single fact about me! It was like stepping into the light. The problem was typically that people in the church who are accepting and sympathetic don't often know what to say or what to do to believers who are struggling with this. It's awkward and so it seems better for them not to bring it up. It's easier just to love me and act like I'm 'normal' than to talk about it with me. That's great - I do appreciate the acceptance, in fact it's refreshing not to be rejected from someone even after knowing about me. But simply accepting me isn't the same as walking with me. What I really need is for someone not to be afraid of it. Someone not afraid to touch me or hug me or hear me. What i really need is for someone who will listen and try to understand the loneliness and darkness that a person like me can be experiencing in church and in life.

Nowadays, of course, there are more people that know about me. There are even good friends of mine that I can talk to and process some of this stuff out. It's even helped for me to process alot of this stuff in this BLOG. It was highly encouraging for me to have people leave me messages on this BLOG - many who were referred here by Brandon from He made a post in his BLOG recently regarding mine and the really encouraging thing was that he acknowledged the journey I'm on.

The thing about that is...he made me feel heard. And that made my world that much more less lonely.

Monday, August 01, 2005

Sacrifices To Be Made

Three years ago, I told my family during Thanksgiving that I was gay. I was the one in the family considered to be the most spiritually mature because at that point I had been a Christian for nine years. When I became a Christian, it took awhile for the rest of the family to accept that I was different. I never drank alcohol. I never smoked. I stopped cursing. I never partied (at least wildly). I never did drugs. I was concerned about the things of God and that made me weird. In fact, at one memorably hostile Christmas, my sister even called me 'holier-than-thou'. But i was consistent in my faith and they realized that that's the person i was. It wasn't just a religious phase. It was an important part of my life and they eventually accepted me. Actually, one by one, they began to accept Christ as well.

Then i told them that I was gay. They immediately accepted me and were supportive of me. When i say i told them i was 'gay', i actually put it in the context of struggling with same sex attractions - but i also told them that i've struggled all my life. Saying it this way was somewhat more palatable for them i think. They could sympathize with a struggle because it wasn't really a lifestyle. I wonder how different it would be if I actually took a boyfriend to a family holiday function? I love my family though and I know that they love me.

Yet, I also know that there would be some pretty serious sacrifices to be made if i were to pursue a committed relationship with a guy. Pretty much all my ministry life revolves around a 'straight' world. (Me checking out this gay-friendly church is very much a secret). Making that kind of a bold decision would change the way I function in my current ministry. Is that a sacrifice i'm willing to make? Ministry isn't just a 'job' - for me its a lifestyle. My faith is a lifestyle. It's not that simple just to say someone else will take over the ministry and I can go on with my life with a guy and finally really 'be happy'. I'm happy in ministry. I'm happy serving Christ. Of course I want to be happy physically and emotionally and of course (i think) i'd be happy in a loving relationship with a guy. But there's something about knowing Jesus and serving Him in whatever capacity I can that is fulfilling.

Serving Him in ministry is an act of worship - it's my choice and my honor and my privilege. I was created to worship Him. I love Him and I love serving Him. But the reality is that embracing my 'gayness' would change the way I serve Him. I would only embrace it if i believed that God was okay with it - but i know that even if i came to that conclusion, between me and God, other people may not accept it and so that's what i mean when i say my current ministry will change. I know i can always serve God at this gay-friendly church that i've been checking out. I know that I will always find a way to serve Him in whatever context i'm in. But i like the ministry that He placed me in now and i'd hate to have to make a choice between it and an openly 'gay christian' life.

It felt good telling my family that i was gay. It felt good telling select friends about me as well. It feels good to be at a church with other gay people and for me to feel free being myself. But i'm still very much in the closet in terms of public ministry life. I like that more and more (safe) people know about me. But not everyone does and that makes it still pretty lonely.