Thursday, January 19, 2006

Explosions Leading To Harmony

When will the Church embrace itself fully? We are comprised of men and women, black and white and asian and hispanic and every other race, ethnicity, and nationality across the globe. We express our worship differently. We express our theologies differently. We even express our sexuality differently. However, we all have come to a point of faith in Jesus Christ - the One that connects us all by His Spirit as One Body.

In a 'church culture' where the message of unity can't seem to be lived out, I feel called to be a catalyst - someone who brings two things together to cause a reaction. Sometimes, that reaction can be explosive. Sometimes, that reaction can lead to harmony. Sometimes, the explosion blows up what shouldn't be there so that what's left is in harmony . . . .

The past several weeks have been a wrestling match for me with some within the Church about the issue of homosexuality. About a month ago, for the first time I owned the feelings that come with injustice - those feelings of being "Profoundly Offended". The interesting thing that i'm finding on this journey of mine is that as I accept myself more and more as a Christ-centered gay person, it's helping me to see how I can help others within the Church accept other Christ-centered gay believers.

Raising the issue is bound to result in hostility, animosity, or at the very least discomfort. But raising the issue does just that - it raises the issue. It gets people talking. For too long, homosexuality has been a "hot zone" topic where no one in the Church wanted to talk about it. When the topic is silenced (when we are silenced) then the assumptions, myths, and hysteria breed an unchallenged culture that justifies the casting out of the Christian lepers - those who are marginalized as those who have the sinful audacity for suggesting that one can be both gay and Christian. They say that the integrity of the truth of Scripture is being compromised and they use the Law against us.

Who is right? Who is true?

For me, I had to wrestle with this issue in order to find resolution in my being. I had to experience some explosive reactions in me so that God could lead me to a place of peace - harmony. The things I learned when I was Side X had to be challenged. They had to be challenged because the facts they presented didn't add up.

I was told that God loved me. I was told that God hated homosexuality as sin. I was told that I am a new creation. I continued to experience same sex attractions. I was told I can change. I was shown people who changed their lifestyles but not their inherent attractions. I was told that God's love was unconditional. I was shown a conditional love by the Church. I was told to value truth. I was shown a Church ready to stone a person for articulating a truth about himself. I was forced to secrecy - darkness - for my own safety. I was told that the real enemy is Satan. I was shown a Church that wasn't safe for me. I was told that God's grace is sufficient for me. I was told that I couldn't be gay if I claimed to be Christian. Apparently, grace wasn't enough. Somehow, heterosexuality was "added" to the salvation formula.

My journey is rooted in certain core truths that I know about God. These are things that I wasn't simply told by the Church, but rather things that I have experienced from God personally and confirmed in Scripture for myself. I know God to be love. His love is unselfish, patient, kind, and keeps no record of wrongs. I know God to be sacrificial. He would rather die than to see me hurt. I know God to be just. He values equality and fairness in the world, in me, in His people. I know God to be slow to anger. God's wrath towards me is tempered by His enduring love for me so much that it would be a really long time before He was really angry with me. I know God to be righteous. He calls for a standard of holiness. I know God to be sovereign. He demands obedience for He is the King of all. I know God to be my Creator. He knew my name before I was even born. I know God to be my friend, my Father. He comforts me, nurtures me, and counsels me.

This is what I know about God. This tells me what I know about myself.

The person I am was created by Him. I am known by Him. I am loved. I am called to mirror His love towards me by loving all people properly. This expression of love is to transform my very being. It doesn't transform my biology, but rather it transforms the way I love God and love others. I worship Him alone. I seek to bless my friends. I strive to love romantically as one who expresses commitment, unselfishness, patience, kindness, and keeping no record of wrongs. When I identify myself as a gay Christian, I am not claiming an identity outside of God's intent - for He created me. I claim an identity that loves God and loves others properly. I am a creature of healthy love. At least, that's the intent. It's not about the gender of whom I love, but rather it's about properly loving without the context of sin - lust, idolatry, and violence. Since I am not a perfect creature, He is constantly molding me - transforming me - so that I learn from my mistakes, my sins - so that I may not engage them again. In that process, I have the privilege of grace to spur me onward.

My God is not a condemning God. There is no compromise for this truth. There are those who say that I cannot be both gay and Christian. They attempt to use the Law against me, claiming that I am 'breaking' His Law while attaching their own interpretations of it. They call their interpretations truth. For me, I think truth is found only in God. He is truth. If we want to know Truth, then we ought to look at what we know about God - and that should be our lens for our interpretations of Scripture. I find my confidence in Christ alone and in my relationship with Him.

Thank God that He is who He is because He made who I am.

What is it that you know of God through your own personal relationship with Him and how does that define the person you are? What else have we been taught in the past that need a stick of TNT so that we can find harmony?


Anonymous said...

Eric, this rocks. You are so not the only person who is thinking this way!

In response to the first part of your last question:

I came to know Jesus at age 19. Despite a heck of a lot of evidence that I was same-sex-attracted, I didn't come out to myself until age 31.

God didn't reject me. He was there for me in the shock and confusion. In fact he was the first person I came out to. I sat there in the bathroom in tears and said, "God, I'm gay". Quietly he said: "I know." His response shocked me as much as my moment of self-discovery some minutes before.

God didn't leave me just because I was/am/always have been gay. He stayed with me. In fact in the next few months I got closer to Him - because for a long time He was the only one I dared to confide in about my sexuality. And I got to know how quietly persistent and tenacious He is in wanting the best for His children.

I got to know how He truly changes and challenges people ... not through condemnation or rejection or shouting in my face, but through quiet gradual buildup of trust.

In His own quietly persuasive way He asked me time and time again to hand my sexuality over to Him. At first I was like, "NO! it's too deep, too much a part of me". Three months on I was begging Him to take it from me!

There was then a time of breakthrough which at first, for a long time in fact, I naiively interpreted as me "being turned straight".

Well I now know that God definitely hasn't turned me straight!! - but He has changed selfish attitudes in me. There are deep parts of me which are now under His ownership, for ever.

And by allowing me to go through the often painful and crazy experiences of the last few years He's enabled me to empathise and feel compassion for and interest in people and an LGBT community I wouldn't otherwise have cared about - or gotten to make friends with.

I think Jesus is building up this way not just a few individuals but an army of people - who in humility and love will help to transform His *whole* Church further into the humble and loving and justice-seeking and INCLUSIVE Bride she's truly meant to be.

Anonymous said...

Thank you Thank you Thank you. Now all we need is for the Church and others to understand and embrace what you have said in your post .Why oh why are so many people so aghast at what it is to be gay and Christian?Why do we have to be always "defending" ourselves.
If God hates my sexuality then why does He not change me to be "straight". He has the power to do so as He is my creator .
I'm just going to get on with my life the best I can under His authority despite my sinning thou it so frustrates me that I cant come "out" and be ME .I have been a follower of Jesus Christ for 35 years now and am still in the "closet"afraid of rejection by the Church .

The Rainbow Zebra said...

I have experienced this with my chronic illnesses. I have been told that God will heal me--only to have those people shun me when I, big surprise, wasn't healed. And then I felt like there was something wrong with me if God wouldn't heal me.

I'm a bit more open about my illness now--and have found some acceptance.

So, a big ol' stick of TNT for alot of those platitudes.