Category Archives: Partners
Who needs original content when you can share stories as wonderful as this one?! It’s titled, “I hugged a man in his underwear. I think Jesus would have, too.”
It tells the story behind the picture you see here —————>
I don’t want to give too much away, but…
Watching people recognize our apology brought me to tears many times. It was reconciliation personified.
My favorite though was a gentleman who was dancing on a float. He was dressed solely in white underwear and had a pack of abs like no one else. As he was dancing on the float, he noticed us and jokingly yelled, “What are you sorry for? It’s pride!” I pointed to our signs and watched him read them.
Then it clicked.
Then he got it.
He stopped dancing. He looked at all of us standing there. A look of utter seriousness came across his face. And as the float passed us he jumped off of it and ran towards us. In all his sweaty beautiful abs of steal, he hugged me and whispered, “thank you.”
If the word “reconcile” isn’t already bouncing around in your brain… let me put it there for you.
Reconcile: 1) To cause a person to accept or be resigned to something not desired. 2) To win over to friendliness; cause to become amicable. 3) To compose or settle a quarrel, dispute, etc. 4) To bring into agreement or harmony.
Obviously, many of our LGBTQ friends need to find a way to reconcile their sexual orientation and their faith. Many of us also need to be reconciled with the church. But let’s not forget that while it’s important for us to be reconciled (brought happily back together with) both our sexuality and the church, it’s even more important that we be won over by, brought into harmony with, and reconciled to God.
The Son is the image of the invisible God, the firstborn over all creation. For in him all things were created: things in heaven and on earth, visible and invisible, whether thrones or powers or rulers or authorities; all things have been created through him and for him… For God was pleased to have all his fullness dwell in him, and through him to reconcile to himself all things, whether things on earth or things in heaven, by making peace through his blood, shed on the cross.
Don’t miss that the writer of Colossians tells us that God was PLEASED to reconcile all things to himself. God was happy to do it. The word the writer used for “pleased” literally means “found to be good by means of a test.”
The point? God sat down and decided whether he thought being in a relationship with us – all of us – was a good idea… and decided that it was. The idea of a relationship with us made God happy. So God did what was necessary to make peace with us.
He didn’t make conflict, demands, or guilt. He made peace. With us. All of us. Just as we were. Just as we are. And so, perhaps we should follow the example of the underwear clad man above (and another son in another great story), and allow ourselves to be reconciled…
An article titled “Do Not Give Up On Christian Gays” appeared in the Advocate – a national LGBT news magazine – last week. The title says it all, right?
The young author makes an interesting case for the responsibility LGBT folks have for changing the church from the inside out. (perhaps this is our calling?) He says…
The message [of the church I grew up in] was largely unspoken, yet crystal clear: If you don’t fit into a heterosexual identity, you aren’t welcome.
None of this was because church is unwelcoming in general. Everyone was welcomed on the same terms — being willing to repent from sin. Those who wouldn’t repent but wanted acceptance anyway were asking for special treatment. And being gay was a sin — a choice, a rebellion against God’s design.
Sadly, for LGBT kids in these communities, things are not getting better. And no matter how many moving videos are made or how many young people take their lives in despair, change will not come so long as the only voices of dissent are coming from the outside — from progressive Christians and the nonreligious. Change can be achieved within conservative Christianity, but it must come from within.
The trouble is, the best candidates for reforming these churches — the LGBT Christians who are in them — remain isolated and voiceless. When we do come out and try to gain acceptance, we’re shut down with antigay readings of Scripture. And if we aren’t prepared to articulate and defend our own theological understanding with all the fluency and gravitas of a biblical scholar, we’re shown the door.
So… what’r we to do?
I’ll never forget the summer night I stood on my back porch with fists raised to the sky and tearfully asked God, “what the hell am I supposed to do now?” After more than a decade in ministry, I was stuck. I could either continue living as a straight person (and deny who God had created me to be), or “come out” and be forced to walk away from my calling (because of who God had created me to be).
I was terrified. It seemed like an impossible decision. What was my responsibility to the church? To my God? To myself?
I eventually came to realize that I’m not built like a magnet, with two sides (the spiritual and the sexual) that automatically repel each other. I am a Christian gay man. These two identities are not in opposition to each other. Like bacon and chocolate, they come together in an unexpectedly beautiful union. This means that as a minister, I have the ability to work for the kingdom in a way that few others can.
Perhaps you do, too.
Friends, we gay Christians fill an important niche in both the gay and Christian communities. We are bilingual – able to speak both LGBT and Christian. We can either work from within the Church and tell the Christian community “there might be a better, more Godly way,” or we can work from within the gay community to spread the message that, “despite what you may have heard, God does not hate you.”
Either way, nobody can work for change like we can. Nobody has a foot in two doors like we do. Nobody has the potential to unify two feuding families like we do.
So… raise your fists to the sky if you must, but don’t give up on God. God hasn’t given up on you.
update: for an excellent, although slightly different, perspective on “working from the inside” (especially when you’re angry and/or confused by your experience with the church), check out this really nicely written post by John Shore titled “From Gay-Hating Fundie to Righteously Angry Lesbian. Now What?”
What does Dan Savage – LGBT activist and co-founder of the It Gets Better movement – think about LGBT affirming churches? See for yourself…
I both love it and hate it when I read someone else’s words and think, “*sigh*… I wish I had written that.”
The blog post I just read filled me with both jealousy and delight. Delight because the writer said what I feel, and jealously because… the writer said what I feel.
As I work (with increasing excitement) through my own issues of “calling,” this post was exactly what I needed this morning. I think we all need to be reminded that as LGBT Christians we have a responsibility – a calling – to minister to the wounded. Just because we’ve been hurt doesn’t mean we shouldn’t also be healers. After all, who better than us to spread the good news of a Savior who said, “blessed are you when people insult you, persecute you and falsely say all kinds of evil against you because of me.”
For ours is the Kingdom of Heaven, too…
All too often, we are wounded. We are hurting. Quite frankly, some of us have been so heavily wounded by the Church that we’re barely functioning. The bitterness, anger, resentment, and dejection that we feel toward other Christians is enough to poison our spirit…
That doesn’t mean we have to stay in sour relationships. It doesn’t mean we have to poison our spirit by sitting under ministries that pour bile out with every sermon.
Find the safe places. Find a place to heal. To be Christian. Where there is no expectation of “praying the gay away.” Where we can be whole. Where we can be nurtured and to be fully healed…. not so that we can rest, but so that we can carry the torch of the living risen Lord and Savior to those who truly, desperately need to know that someone genuinely cares.
We have a responsibility — if we are Christian, to BE Christian. Live with integrity. Form healthy relationships, shun promiscuity, and truly follow Christ.
We who have been wounded in the past have the calling — a responsibility even — to find those who have also been wounded and minister healing. We’ll have to continue to dodge those jagged, venomous arrows from both sides — a no man’s land where countless people are only hoping to survive.
We must find the wounded and care for them.
We must find the bullied and help them to stand firm and be proud of who they are.
We must find the tormented and help them find healing.
We must find those in despair and help them find hope.
The shrewdest, loudest, most violent lie that LGBT people at Christian colleges and universities carry is this: that no one else like them exists. More important, and more enduring than the stares and questions and assaulting prayers, are the stories of the 70 current students, and 130 alumni who contacted me to say they had the same kind of dreams I did…
As a graduate of a Christian college, I admire Todd’s moxy. There’s really no reason for me to comment further. I mean, the story of how I didn’t come out at a Christian college is pretty boring. And why would I waste valuable space on the internet commenting on Todd’s story when you can read it for yourself…
Tom Ehrich – a man I hadn’t heard of until 15 minutes ago – just took me to church.
In an article on SJ-R.com he asks, “What if America truly were a Christian nation? Not a Southern Baptist nation, or an Episcopal nation, or a Roman Catholic nation. Not grounded in the doctrinal and ecclesiastical isms that have grown up over the centuries. But a Christian nation, doing what Jesus did…
We wouldn’t be taking votes on who gets medical care, or who gets to live, or who gets to learn, or whose rights matter more, or whose race or religion can’t be allowed to breathe freely. For Jesus gave healing to all who asked, defended the lives of sinners, taught all who were eager to learn, welcomed all to his circle — even outcasts, lepers and children. He had no regard for his own tradition’s finely tuned boundaries…
We would stand with the poor when predators circled around them. We would stand with sinners when the self-righteous picked up stones. We would join hands with nonconformists and strangers.
We would become God’s beacon to the nations. And when the tired and poor followed that light to our borders, we would greet them with open arms and make room for them in our communities.
That’s what Jesus did, and that is what it would mean to be a Christian nation…”
You should definitely check out the entire article (Tom Ehrich Asks If We Really Live Like Christians) to read all the wonderfullness the fits between all the …’s I’ve inserted in the quote above.
It’s worth your time. Trust me.
A parable: Once upon a time, Courtney wore a vintage Aerosmith t-shirt to work. James, the man whose desk faced hers, was offended beyond words. He hated Aerosmith. He always had. He always would. Steven Tyler’s lips freaked him out. James berated Courtney for her horrible taste in music and insulted her choice of clothes. Courtney called James an idiot and screamed that she had the right to wear whatever shirt she wanted. James threw a stapler. Courtney threatned legal action. Courtney and James fought for hours about a silly t-shirt… without ever realizing they were both wearing the same shoes.
The point? LGBT Christians and “straight” Christians may be so busy fighting over whether it’s ok to be gay that we’ve forgotten everything we have in common.
Thanksgiving, that glorious day when we indulge in both cranberries and conflict around the family table, is only a few days away. If you think your holiday might involve a tense conversations with Christian family and friends, maybe the following will help…
Richard Beck, Professor or Psychology at Abilene Christian University, has some very interesting concerns about how Gay folks and Christian folks talk with each other. He claims we’re creating arguments where one side wins, one side loses, and both sides forget we’re all on the same team. He says:
[My] first frustration is that it’s tacitly assumed that the only issue at stake in these conversations is the biblical status of same-sex relations. From a biblical perspective, are same-sex relations permissible? No doubt that is the central question, but it’s often assumed that this is the only question. That is, once this question is settled, one way or the other, the two groups have nothing much else to say to each other. Usually because they can’t agree on this question.
Which leads to my second frustration: the zero-sum nature of the conversation. Since it’s often assumed that the biblical status of same-sex relations is the only issue at stake, a “winner takes all” atmosphere is created. Either the traditional Christian side will win (in prohibiting same-sex relations) or the gay side will win (in affirming same-sex relations). This creates a zero-sum “I win. You lose.” dynamic that isn’t very kind or healthy.
Interesting, right? What if, instead of focusing only on whether God thinks it’s ok to be gay (which sets up a win/lose dynamic), we start thinking about all things both straight and gay Christians already agree about?
It’s a great post. Seriously. Read it before you carve your turkey (and family) on Thursday.
According to the Bible, “they” will know we are Christians by our love.
According to research conducted by The Barna Group, however, most “outsiders” under 30 know we are Christians not by our love, but by our politics, judgmental language, and anti-homosexuality.
I spend a lot of time thinking about how to help LGBT folks understand that their sexuality doesn’t separate them from God. I get frustrated when I hear stories about Christians who somehow think that using hateful, judgmental, hell-centered language effectively communicates the grace of God.
Unfortunately, too many trusted pastors, authors, speakers, and politicians preach that in order to be for Christ you must be against [fill in the blank]. You obviously know that this blank is often filled not only with issues (abortion, homosexuality, etc.), but also with the people these issues represent… homosexuals, pro-choicers, democrats, liberals, etc. I think it’s safe to say that many of the folks reading this blog have experienced the hurt that comes from being shoved into the “against” column.
I could rant endlessly about how un-Biblical it is to imply that Christianity requires its followers to be against people. The New Testament paints Jesus as decidedly PRO-people. The only groups he ever came close to being against were judgmental religious insiders. Regardless…
What if there’s another side to this story?
I’m currently reading “unChristian: What a New Generation Really Thinks About Christianity… And Why It Matters.” In it, David Kinnaman and Gabe Lyons explain what they learned from interviews with 867 people about their perceptions of Christianity. In the chapter dealing with non-Christian folks’ perception that Christianity is anti-homosexual, they say:
… a young Christian friend we interviewed said she has to be discreet about her attempts to minister to some gay people she has met at work. ‘If my church friends hear me talk sympathetically about gays, they get bent out of shape about it…’
I’ve been chewing on this idea for several weeks. I hadn’t really considered the frustration, confusion, and grief of conservative Christians who are led to believe that in order to fully love Jesus, they must disapprove of their gay friends, coworkers, children, uncles, and sisters. I know how hard it is for a Christian homosexual to come out as gay… but in my self-pity/absorption, I hadn’t really considered how difficult it must be for a conservative “straight” Christian to “come out” as one of our allies. By showing their loyalty, understanding, and support for a gay friend/family member, many straight Christians apparently have their faith questioned… just as we do when we “come out.”
I’m surprised that I’m surprised. When my friend (and former pastor) Joe contributed this blog entry a few weeks ago, he emailed me to say:
So I posted this link on my facebook page. I’m guessing that more than 90% of my fb friends are conservative and will really react to this. Most don’t know that I stand where I stand, so it should be interesting. It’s time I say what I believe and stand by it…
His Facebook post said, “many of you will un-friend me. many of you will chastise me. many of you will mock me. however, it’s time i come out of the closet.”
I don’t know whether Joe lost friends because of the blog post… but his awareness of the potential fallout speaks volumes. I guess “coming out” has consequences for everyone.
What do you think? Does a fear of becoming “guilty by association” discourage our Christian parents, friends, and fellow believers from doing the homework necessary to understand how God and gay can fit together?
PS. If you’d like to read reflections by a few of our straight allies about why they support our community, check out The Allies Project – a new initiative that tells the stories of the straight folks who have made our journey a little easier!