Wednesday, December 30, 2009

More reader input 2010

Last night I woke up and had a REALLY good idea for a post. Then I went back to sleep and can't remember what it is. I do that a lot, whether it's when I'm sleeping or not. I start posts in my head, and then can't compose them. I write a good beginning paragraph, and then my conclusions don't match the intensity of what I began with. The result is that I haven't blogged much.

While I get some amazing e-mails, most of them require well-though-out replies. I am NOT good at advice. Each life requires decisions that I'm not qualified to make, and that I can't make for anyone else. My life has been and IS one that I still have to decide and walk through every day. As much as I wish that it were easy, think again. Let me share some questions, and open this for input.


a seemingly kind fan wrote, and a reply to her has to be on so many levels:
I am not without experience in this- though mine, admittedly doesn't compare with yours. My sister is living a lesbian lifestyle. I'm not emailing you to harrass or even to criticize, it isn't my intention to seem combative. I'm sure this is just one of many emailst hat echo the same feeling. I firmly believe this is a very convincing lie form the devil- we all have sinful desires, that doesn't give us permission to act on them. I dont mean to trivialize his lifelong struggle, I know it is far from simple. God doesn't lie. Satan does. God won't tell you not to act on homosexual feelings while making you to have them. It doesn't mean they aren't felt- just that they are NOT from God. I think its a shame that you are condoning and offering up your own version of biblical truth to justify this life- it is a flasehood that could lead others astray.

a divorced, gay man, wrote concerning how to continue to celebrate the holidays:
My question is this: Can I still have a positive relationship with her [his ex-wife] including Christmas day celebrations, gatherings with her family, etc.? Is this possible or even reasonable so as not to confuse my 12 year old son?

and from "BKY" who e-mailed:

I will pray ...for... you, and your children. I will pray that you each will know Christ and grow closer to him. I pray that you will glorify him and seek the truth of the gospel. I implore you to please be careful what you are teaching others for when you lead others astray how much more accountable will He hold you for your actions. We are all sinners, yes even Christians, so we will continue to sin until Jesus comes back again. The difference between a Christian and a non Christian is repentance. I pray you and Ray will seek out this concept and then maybe you will realize that Christians do not hate you but want to see you be victorious in Christ! I wrote back this reply:

Dear BCY,

Thank you for writing to me, and for what tries to be kindness. I'm glad you have listened to Ray's music and liked it so much. I am truly thankful that you have written.

I'm sorry that you think I am leading others astray. I don't believe that. I also wish that it were as simple as what you describe as being "victorious in Christ," in order to deal with being gay. It's NOT like that.

What I feel is that I'm fortunate to have been born and have grown up as a heterosexual woman. I'm in the majority, and that is easier than adjusting to being non-heterosexual. I didn't have to decide that. It came natural to me, and as my hormones kicked in as a teenager, I learned to live according to Christian morals and principles. I'm thankful for a church that guided me and for a family that trusted my feelings for boys.

However, for many who are not "straight"-feeling, the responses to a young adult "crush" (on someone of the same gender) from family members is criticism, judgment, and rejection for non-stereotypical feelings. It isn't even recognized or mentioned in the home - where all of our "family values" are so strongly incorporated. If this is mentioned in the community and/or in school, young people are outcast, and in churches they are condemned. It is this judgment against normal, honest feelings for another person that the non-straight young person is forced to hide. Most try to conform to a nature contrary to their make-up, and they desperately go against what for straight kids is normal, adolescent development.

What I'm saying here is that if it is a straight crush on a boy or girl, it is encouraged. If it is a same-sex crush, it is forbidden, judged, and ridiculed. Rather than allow normal feelings to develop, gay kids are forced from an early age to hide their feelings.

Eventually, many gay people couple and marry straight people, and many times this is done without telling the straight partner. Telling young people that their same-sex-attractions will go away, or diminish, or be solved by marrying a straight person is WRONG. It's not TRUE, or HONEST or any other value that is honored by the Bible or by Christ.

That is what I object to! And I keep saying what I say in hope that it will affect some, and some will not be damaged by broken hearts, broken lives, broken families. I will not go off in a corner and be quiet. Why should it be that there is the "gay community" and in opposition, the "church people"? Why does one need to be an outcast from the faith community based on one's natural, God-given sexual orientation? Oh, wait. It doesn't have to be that way!

Why shouldn't and couldn't it be that we begin to model coupled relationships in our society, including in our churches, that show love, commitment, respect, and honor for one another? Why shouldn't and couldn't it be that we allow young persons, no matter of their sexual orientation, to hang out, crush on and date, the ones that they are naturally attracted to? Why shouldn't and couldn't it be that the straight allies speak up, and that they won't be accused of leading others astray for it? Why shouldn't it and couldn't it be that we live HONESTLY, rather than denying the truth about sexual orientation?

I won't stop, and I pray I can find the energy to keep blogging in 2010. I don't always have all the words or the right words to say, but I will make every effort to keep saying the same thing. IF it is redundant, so be it. If it is disliked, same thing. If I get through to some, I'm glad. If I make some upset, I just hope they'll have read enough to make them think about the issues.

Don't let me down, folks. I'm encouraged and "pumped" when I get your messages and e-mails. Thanks for a great year - and for the upcoming one, let's keep talking about the truth!


Daniel said...

I think it is so interesting. My instant reaction as a Christian gay man when I read someone discouraging my "lifestyle choice" is defensiveness. It's easy to feel this way when someone is being a bigot or knowingly hateful. But when someone wholeheartedly and honestly disagrees with who I am, I need to learn to quiet that defensive voice and simply listen.... and disagree. :)

Bose said...

My thoughts for the first fan whose sister is lesbian would go something like this...

Thanks so much for your concern, your thoughtfulness, your heart. I appreciate your determination to avoid trivializing or oversimplifying.

It's tempting for me to weave my way through your thoughts, responding phrase by phrase, but at the moment I'm just not finding the energy to do that.

Instead, can we imagine we're sitting down over a simple meal, or taking a walk together? Talking about simple odds-and-end in each other's lives, the silly and serious things that have been gifts over the years... spending time together, I trust we will get a sense of each other's hearts, that we've each lived full, sometimes tumultuous, lives. We will come away with a sense of God and spirit embedded in each other, of people who have wrestled mightily, sincerely, with what we feel God drawing us into.

As each of our hearts are revealed to the other, our histories laid bare, our ups and downs, loves and hurts, hits and flops, can we come to the conclusion that each of us has lived rigorously, cautiously, thoughtfully, prayerfully? That our lives today are the result of investing all that we are and all that we have?

As we look around us, there are others we each cherish and respect, yet disagree with on some stuff, right? It's a mystery that God calls us, and yet after lifetimes of prayer and study, we find ourselves in different places. But, for me, faithful life isn't about perfect certainty, it's about embracing the mystery of God who is not fully knowable by me.

That's not quite complete, but the wrap-up just isn't coming to me.

Over the years, I've struggled while engaging with folks whose perspectives are like this person's. The people I've known have been well-meaning folks, deeply and beautifully invested in their spiritual journey, wanting to be compassionate and empathetic. As the conversations developed, the assumption often emerged that my faith journey had been shallow, insincere, or self-serving. So, the other person was sincere in believing that his/her faith was well-rounded, grounded, and principled, and that my faith wasn't just different, was something less than that. To be fair, no malice was intended on their part. But that was a roadblock to open, healthy communication.

I don't know if that's similar to where this person is at, but more than thrashing through stuff like sinful desires, God's truth, and Satan's lies, I want to lovingly encourage her to acknowledge that being a gay-affirming Christian isn't the same as being a shallow Christian. If we can agree that we're both coming into the conversation as fully-formed, deeply spiritual adults, we have a foundation to build on. When two well-meaning, compassionate folks disagree on that point, the conversation is destined to be, at best, academic, not personal.

Wormwood's Doxy said...

I think Bose hits the nail on the head. To those writers, you can't be a "real" Christian unless you agree with their interpretation of scripture. (And it *is* just an interpretation. I wonder if they realize that they are putting themselves in the place of God when they tell you what scripture "means"?)

The more I study the Bible--and the more I study ABOUT the Bible--the less comprehensible their arguments...and their fears...become.

But then that Bible, and those arguments, had a hugely negative impact on my life. They convinced a kind and generous young man that he could never be loved and accepted for who he was, so he had to pretend to be something he was not. And that something was heterosexual.

Lies are, indeed, from Satan. And my ex lived a lie about who he was and whom he loved. He DID love me (still does), but not like a husband should love a wife.

God helped to free him from that lie, and he and his husband have been together for over 18 years now. They live in DC and are beginning to plan their wedding. :-)

Carol---you do a wonderful thing here, by sharing your story and by giving others a chance to see that: 1) They aren't alone, and 2) They can still be loved and accepted by people who CALL themselves Christians.

Those people who write to you are unlikely to be convinced by what you say. After all, they are writing to tell you that they have "The Truth" and you are clearly sinful and deluded if you disagree. That level of smug arrogance is unlikely to be breached by an e-mail from someone they don't actually have to interact with in their daily lives.

But your lurkers are watching. They will probably never write or comment, but they are reading you and pondering what you have to say in their hearts. So keep writing if you can--you are touching people's lives in a wonderful way.


Anonymous said...

Please keep on keeping on. Seeing how you've come through this gives me hope I can emerge whole too. My gay husband has completely screwed up his life based on his horribly misguided religious upbringing and the advice of a psychologist who should have his license revoked. And because he went completely wild once he stopped denying he's gay, he now has Hep B and HIV.

My church had someone sing Ray's "Thank You" a few weeks ago and I just reveled in the beautiful melody and lyrics. Gay or straight, the love of and for God is in that song. It seems so simple to us, but to too many so-called Christians, all they can do is hate. So sad.

Have a happy new year!

Birdie said...

You are such a light to me! I feel pretty much alone here in my stance as a straight Christian ally. My husband is supportive, but he has some growing to do. Most of my friends just want me to be quiet about it. My church is afraid I'll make waves too soon, even though the staff is supportive. I'm frustrated as all get-out about this lack of forward movement. (I know: God's timing. But it's hard.) So when I read here of the impact you are making, it gives me hope and energy and patience. Thank you, Carol, for your willingness to be a target and for showing everyone what it means to truly show the radical love of Christ.

Tim said...

In the face of my own family's indifference and subtle homophobia I take great comfort in your words and presence. Thank you.

Those who berate you for turning away from Christ seem to be displaying their own limited knowledge of what He was all about and their reliance on false prophets for spiritual insights. Jesus' words come down to: love God, love yourself, love each other, don't judge. He wasn't kind to divorce, but he said nothing about being gay. Other passages in the New Testament are open to interpretation and anyone looking for rules to live by in the Old Testament must pick and chose from a huge list that includes stoning adulterers.

Anonymous said...

It's taken me almost 2 years to deal with my ex-husband leaving me to live the life of a homo-sexual. We were married for over 7 years with a beautiful 6 year old son. I too didn't understand and am so ignorant how someone can say they are a gay Christian. It took 2 long painful difficult years for God to show me that I am not without sin. What gives me the right to judge him. I strongly believe that God sees the individual's heart and their love for Him. We are now friends and live a better life. Forgiveness, understanding and God's love for one another is what matters in the end. Don't you think? God bless, Texas.

Carol said...

Hi "Texas,"
I'm so glad you have worked through the hurt of your husband leaving. I'm not sure the pain ever leaves, but forgiveness is key.

While I don't feel it is right to be unfaithful when two people have committed to one another, I don't think that it's right for mixed-orientation couples to live in denial. They each must find how to go forward, and for many, including me and my former husband, it was to terminate our marriage and try to live independently.

I'm so glad you have posted, and pray that you will be at peace. Good luck with raising a healthy, loving son, one who loves both his parents.