During high school, the church I attended decided to take part in a Bible reading program that would allow us to read through the entire Bible in 90 days. The process was supposed to immerse us in a way of reading the scripture that would allows us to see just how vast it really was. In my case, I suppose it became a feat that showed me just how bad I was at finishing something I started.
See, for the first few weeks I would come home from school and hammer down into the giant book, mainly out of some intrinsic challenge to prove to myself that I was capable of something 'intellectual.' Some afternoons I would find myself captivated by reading stories I'd never even heard about in Sunday school. Other days, I would fight to stay focused on the reading, distracted by my attempt to make small mountains out of the Smucker's Uncrustable PB&J sandwich pockets I was eating. So much for being an intellectual, I guess.
While the Bible was fascinating and I felt all of this solidarity with my church friends, the sheer intensity started to wear me down. As I reached the conclusion of the Old Testament my eyes started to wander to my food crumbs more and more. Two weeks later, into Matthew, my nerdy Church-brat over-confidence began to set in. These were all stories I've heard my whole life and I was done with it. Maybe someday I would be able to resume this type of thing, but for that afternoon, I had some VH1 to watch.
Looking back on this process of Bible speed dating, I began to learn that the whole exercise wasn't so much about intense immersion into the Bible. Instead it was about keeping a shallow, light-hearted pace through it all. I've tried other Bible reading plans and found myself trudging through the awful destruction of the Hebrews for days on end. Trust me, that lasts just long enough to question if I need counseling or a new faith. In this rapid-fire plan, I got the chance to quickly pass by the Hebrew destruction and see it paired with the repetitive kindness of God in a single reading session. That is, reading at a pace that even some Olympians would give up on, I was able to see large themes that I wouldn't have seen by reading it every day for years. Although, I weirdly realize that this type of rapid-fire reading has become the norm in 2016, just nine years later.
Some Light Reading
Nearly every day I read blogs, tweets and news stories about the whole spectrum of LGBTQ issues that our world is facing, much of them in relation to religiosity. I've read pieces from hundreds of sources and cultures to the point of sheer burnout. This is no exaggeration, at times I've deleted Twitter from my phone and stopped reading news sources because I grow so tired of reading about LGBTQ issues, both the positive and negative ones. I think I've found my sweet spot: I know it's time to stop when I find myself looking for an Uncrustable sandwich to play with.
Last week, I talked about how I used my wedding as a reason to take a break from this blogging project. However, I realized that, while I stopped writing, I didn't necessarily let myself take a break from reading all the LGBTQ material. I suppose that was both a positive and a negative thing, depending on the article I was reading and the day I chose to read it. Regardless, while I've read so many positive and negative pieces in the past two years, I'm starting to notice a couple of broader themes that the whole gay Christian movement teaches us. Most significantly, I've realized just how much that change really requires of us.
How To Remain An Observer and Lose Your Soul
Throughout my hiatus, I found myself reading the work of others while feeling thankful that I wasn't the person writing it. After reading an article about someone's misfortune in a church or a Christian's angry ranting, I would often lament to my husband how I just wanted to be normal; I didn't want to worry about "...any of this drama." I would read the harsh words of a negative critic and become apathetic or worse, cynical. I just want it to change, but I'm not sure I want to be the one to help change it. It seems that it's easier to desire for something to change rather than to make the change yourself.
Frequently, even as I write this post, I find myself daydreaming what it would be like to not care about any of this. It's a sort of a daydream where my partner and I continue to mindlessly attend our church on Sundays and remain uninvolved, all the while continuing to just 'deal' our lack of genuine community. In contrast, it's easier to watch gay friends of mine avoid the Church at all costs and join into their cynicism myself. On second thought, it's easier to read blogs and tweets about people's' starving need to find love and simply remain unaffected.
It's easier for me to write on this blog to complain about the Church, while taking no tangible efforts to actually make a better circumstance for myself and others. I mean, if we're being honest, that's the simple route — to take The Smucker's Path: Mindlessly playing with our food, lethargically getting chubby, complacent, and finding more interest in scraps of food than something that's truly going to change our story and the stories of others. I think I've realized this before about another people group.
As I'm writing this, I just received an email with the subject line: "19 Ways To Avoid Late Night Snacking." It's probably easier if I just pretend I didn't see that either, right?
Progress Means That You Have To Change, Not Me
After noticing my how easy it is to remain complacent about the matter, I'm seeing another theme creep up. In situations that require change, it's much easier to expect everything around me to change without expecting to change myself in the process. I see this all the time, and even become seduced by the idea myself. I read articles with headlines similar to 10 Things Christians Must Do For Gays. I mean, I've written these types of posts. It's so easy for us [Christians / Gays] to expect the other group to make sacrifice and grow.
Sometimes I look at the gay community and I get nervous for what may happen to the Christian community if gays get too close. I stare at Church wondering if me and my gay peers will ever see the love of God if we're expected to comply with the hetero-culture that it traditionally maintains. It's so much easier for us to cross our arms, write content, and say things to each other in stubbornness to our own need to change.
The reality is, if I believe in God and this theology on sexuality, the Community of God will look radically different as it comes to accept those who are not yet included. The LGBTQ community will begin to take on a different appearance as those a part of it find the heart of Christian community and thrive within it As these two communities come together, everyone will change and grow and none of that is worth worrying about.
For me to read an article of frustration and hurt from an LGBTQ person damaged by Christians, it's so alluring for me to take my position. It's easy for me to read and read and read while projecting my own expectations onto the opposing community even as I'm pulled between the two! It's so tempting for me to find selfish gratitude when someone else is doing the work that I should be doing. However, if I put the PB&J sandwich down and focus, I realize there's much something vastly more meaningful to be done.