I’m afraid to do this. Not really for fear that you won’t be interested and not because I’m afraid of any criticism you may have as a result of my posture toward my lifestyle. I’m afraid because, for the first time in my life, I’m putting myself out there in way in which I am presenting myself fully as I am—a Christ-follower who happens to be gay and is fully embracing of both of these facts.
For most of my life, I’ve been living in each of these spheres, but I had never been living in them in a manner that was cohesive and authentic. For anyone familiar with trying to be two things at once, you may characterize this as an “identity crisis.” You know the type: that crying in the corner, I’m not sure if I just soiled myself-type of crisis. My fear in finally doing this is that people, on both sides, may not appreciate what they see.
WHAT WAS GREAT ABOUT HIDING
My dull rainbow was a shining Cross
For the past six years in my ministerial life it seemed that being gay was a noble issue to struggle through. People who knew I was gay would often commend me for my “strength” to resist such temptations and would deeply respect that I had chosen to give up my hope of a romantic relationship in lieu of following, what we believed to be, as God’s will. The truth is, this felt right—I wasn’t upsetting anyone; people seemed to be in unanimous agreement of my theological posture; I got attention for the fact that I was such a “struggler;” and I was, according to most, happily remaining in this deified compliance.
My dull rainbow kept my Cross shining
What’s more is that my compliance in the church was what helped keep me from “the gays.” I often sat on the proverbial porch of the Church staring out over this people group in disappointment at the sense of community that the gay people were creating. Being celibate meant that I didn’t have to be a part of the LGBTQ community and I was—and somewhat still am—afraid of this community. After all, this was the community of shallow, sex-obsessed, drug-filled, EDM-loving people who hated everything there was to do with us Christians—the very people group I associate myself with. However, as much as I wanted to agree with this view of the gay community, I had to realize that I was in fact one of the people that made up this degenerate community.
My exposure to the gay community was as clear as a foggy view of myself in the mirror after a hot shower. All I could really see was this formless, unsightly mob and that made me fearful.
Put simply, hiding felt like the safest option…
It meant that I got to keep peace with those around me.
It meant that I didn’t have to approach the gay community with anything but a sense of (not-so) Christ-like pity.
It meant that I could quietly pursue my gay life inside my head while maintaining my unchallenged thought processes.
It meant that I didn’t have to disagree with peoples’ theology and sometimes feel insecure in my disagreement.
It meant a sense of deep safety and comfort, really.
SO, WHAT'S THE TRUTH?
I love God and I just so happen to love the people that love God. I suppose that statement goes a little bit further: I love the Church. Most of my life has been focused deeply in ministry and with a genuine care for the structure of our community. It matters to me how we are perceived among people who don’t really care for us. However, we also tremendously frustrate me at times. There are so many things wrong with how we have historically approached the world and even with some of the methods we’re using now. I want us to be more welcoming to people who aren’t like us. I want us to be better.
I’m a part of this community all the same.
I like men who also happen to like men. More tangibly, I’m finding myself madly in love with an amazing guy who loves me. For years, our community has intimidated me because, in addition to me being just like everyone else, I am also a part of the very religious structure that has systematically made our lives more challenging—I’ve contributed to our problems. I’ve been stupid at times and contributed to the very image of sexual promiscuity that many in our community are trying to reshape. Just to keep myself closeted, I’ve probably said homophobic things myself. However, in light of my missteps, our community also frustrates me at times. In a response to years of shameful repression, we sometimes fail to remember that we too have to simply forgive without revenge. We have to stop acting out of our frustrations. We have to, dare I say, teach others how to accept us.
I’m a part of this community just the same.
I’m Amidst an Identity Crisis
I am a part and product of both of these communities. I know the issues that pervade both of these communities and I’ve even thwarted attempts at healing in both. Nevertheless, I’m finally at a place in this foggy terrain where I can see a chance for restoration between these communities. I feel aware enough to really seek, not theological change, but genuine relational prosperity with both communities.
The truth is, our only chance at a healthy identity in any community hinges solely on that which we maintain our existence in.
My existence: Christ-follower
I have an identity that exists in who Jesus is. This, more important than which “box” I fit into, is what should determine my existence. It's in this active faith that I am to be influenced in my interactions in all my communities.
This existence isn’t a cop-out and it’s not necessarily my identity. I’ve often heard those who use their existence in Christ as excuse to ignore their identification with either of these people groups. I’m not totally sure that I want to do that.
My existence in Christ informs my identities. My existence is what influences how I approach both the gay community and the Christian community. My existence gives me the power to subscribe to the positive works of both communities, while giving me the objectivity to reject the negative constructs of both communities.
I know–that stuff could not have gotten much more neck-beard-nerdy. However, understanding this helps me to remember that my existence as God’s dictates how I am to identify with the people in my life.
What’s the purpose of blogging about all of this? It’s simple: to examine the process of fitting into these two people groups in which I don’t completely fit.
A “No” to theological debate
I’ve engaged the debate of same-sex relationships and Christian living in some form or another for around seven years and I’ve resolved to where I stand on the matter. I’ve found that it’s not productive for me to argue the theological principles of LGBTQ-affirming theology, especially in a form of communication such as a blog. That debate, while a dramatically important and worthwhile one, is better examined: 1) Publicly by those more eloquent or 2) personally between my community and me.
Simply put, I don’t feel as if my insight and energy is well spent on trying to convince you of any theological position. Many are already discussing the theologies and I’m grateful that they are engaging such formidable landscape.
What I Hope To Do
After coming to my personal theological conclusions, I have found that the handbook on how to live between these two historically opposed communities has not been written. It seems that, in the current social climate, everyone is talking about the debate itself, and not many are talking about what happens after the debate.
- How do I live as a gay (and okay with it) Christian?
- How do I involve myself in each community without compromising my beliefs about each?
- How do I pursue a healthy gay relationship with someone?
- How do I positively interact with those who completely disagree with my beliefs on either side?
- How do I get involved in a church community with a theology that is currently polarizing?
I HOPE THAT...
For the gay Christian
I hope to share with you my experience. I have felt disoriented, I’ve felt lost and even a tad pessimistic thus far. For me, any encouragement I’ve received has been helpful thus far, so I hope to provide, if anything, just a sliver of solace and maybe guidance for you.
For the Christian Church
I hope to show us that I’m living the same life that you’re trying to live—one that fights against the very things that corrupt us. I’m hoping, albeit somewhat selfishly, to show us what I need as a gay man living in this community. I hope to flourish alongside you, regardless of our theological differences (of which, we all have plenty) and hope that you flourish the same. I hope to show us the immense value that the LGBTQ people can bring to the Church if we are to allow them beyond mere debate.
For the LGBTQ community
I hope to convince us that Christians—these people who have historically been hostile to us—really are loving people; that they really are worth giving and accepting love from. I hope to show us that it’s worth giving up on our resentments with their historically homophobic posture and paving the path toward community with them.
For both communities
I desperately hope to understand, really for myself (but hopefully for you too) how we cannot just live together, but how we can truly thrive with each other as people who love their Creator.
Try leaning into this void with me. I’m sensing that we might just find that we were better for it, no matter what the debate looked like.