Monday, March 20, 2006

Tired of Christians, tired of Christianity

On the ride back from Kansas to Chicago two weeks ago, I had the chance to for several extended conversations with Tom, who has been alternately mentor, shepherd and border-collie on my journey out of the closet. One conversation was on the to-Kansas side of the trip, just catching up. But I had two conversations with him - one while I was there, and one on the way home - discussing the various coming-out encounters that I had during that extended weekend.

During one call, as I told him about my encounter with my friend and former pastor (who recommended that I consider what Exodus International might have to offer to me), Tom said, "At some point you're going to have to address the harm that the Christian church has done to you, and how they've screwed with your head for so many years. I know you've got the tools to deal with all the resentment, and I know you'll get to it. Just know that it's coming..."

(He probably used some more colorful language than that, come to think of it.)

Well, that process started in earnest over the last couple weeks, and really came to a head starting Thursday, I think. A number of things happened that really got me to resenting Christians and Christianity a bunch.

First, two horrific stories on GeekBoi's site just absolutely appalled me. This one, where a gay man died because a cop wouldn't allow anyone to give him mouth-to-mouth resusitation, was awful...the kind of thing that movies like "Billy Jack" and "Walking Tall" were made of. People who would rather let people die or rot in jail rather than even consider their vicious little stereotypes have always infuriated me.

But it was this posting, describing the actions of Catholic Charities in the very Arch Diocese of Boston, who basically closed up the adoption activities of Catholic Charities, rather than risk any child being adopted by gay parents, that really got my ire going.

God damn their pious bullshit!!

How dare they speak of the all-encompassing love of God, and yet consign homeless children to unending foster-home care rather than even consider the possibility that a couple of loving, caring, committed homosexuals might adopt them!

GeekBoi's words are so much clearer and to-the-point than mine would be that I'll just point you there. (You preach it, brother.)

But the real frosting on the cake was not in Christians rejecting homosexuals - but in one man accepting me, exactly as I am.

When my seminary career ended, I started a blog where I spent a lot of time (and way too many words) wrestling with God's will for me, given that His church didn't want me as a candidate for ministry (long before I came out to anyone!). And in the process, I came across a pretty fair number of loving, caring Christians who thought as I thought, and who seemed to understand God as I was coming to understand God. So far, I have kept that blogging community and this one pretty separate - largely because I hadn't come out to several family and close friends who frequented my "other" blog.

One of them, my friend Chris, is one blogger who I've actually met face-to-face a year ago here in Chicago when he came in for a conference. A week or so ago, in posting to his blog, I realized I probably should be out to him, and sent him a brief coming-out email and a link to this site. In the email, I said that I didn't expect he'd have any problems with my announcement, but I was still we wee bit nervous, given the polarizing effect of GLBT issues in the church. His email back was instructive:

Steve,

I'm not polar on this issue and love you (still) as a result. I know that my attitude on homosexuality is polarizing among Christians, but I will stand before God on that one. I don't envy your process, but it changes nothing as far as my friendship and personal regards for you. Count on me to walk with you, talk with you, pray with you and quite frankly not consider the fact that you're gay to blip my radar.

After this week of banshee like screeching (otherwise known as term paper writing), I look forward to reading your intro posts.

I honor your honesty and respect you for "coming out" in an intimate way. Peace to you my brother...Jesus loves you. How odd, a Savior who loves the very people he died for...people like me.
Chris
There were many, many excuses I had for why I hid in the closet for so long. But I allowed my buy-in to Christian homophobia to keep myself hidden away in the closet, hiding my truth for the last fifteen years from people like Chris - folks who would have very likely accepted me anyway.

What a fucking, fucking waste. Sorry, but there's just no other way to say that.

By the way, in the middle of all this, I made the mistake of watching the DVD Priest. Don't get me wrong; it's a great movie. But the Amazon.com synopsis gives a hint as to my problem with it:
A Priest tries to reconcile his love for another man with his love for God, but when a girl steps into the confessional and reveals that her father sexually abuses her, he's frustrated by the laws of the church and questions his faith in a God who would allow this to happen.
It's a good story, but it's not a happy story, and it surely doesn't present organized religion in a light that says, "Gee, I think I need to go back to that!" Anything but, in fact...

The rainbow sprinkles on the frosting on the cake, so to speak, has been reading Jeffrey Siker's Homosexuality in the Church: Both Sides of the Debate. While it seems (so far) to be well-balanced between traditional and liberal views on homosexuality, I just find myself getting so damn weary of the Christian biblical party line, which is basically:
1) God made everything. Male and female he made them. Not Adam and Steve, but Adam and Eve. That's the way it works here - God built it that way. Get over it.

2) The bible has seven texts, five and a half of which condemn homosexual activity in varying ways (depending on how you read and translate them). Yes, we know, the Bible has just hundreds of verses about how we should be struggling for economic and social justice for the weakest among us, and and just as many about how we really ought to be treating folks with care and compassion - but we don't have to worry about that crap.

3) Yes, poverty, joblessness and miserable education have a devastating effect on family life everywhere. And yes, we keep claiming that our concern is with the family. But we're going to focus on you fags instead, because it's easier to go after a minority group than to pry those supposedly good, loving Christians away from what really matters - their SUV's, suburban houses, wallets and purses.
Yup, I think I've had enough of this particular group for a while....

10 comments:

  1. Steve,

    Thanks for this blog, and baring a good deal of your soul and struggle to the virtual community. Though I've only come to your blog recently, I've enjoyed reading your pilgrimage through your archives. I don't think it odd that I see - in your early posts - a committed Christian struggling with his homosexual feelings and tendencies, and that (especially in this post) a man identifying with the homosexual lifestyle who is struggling with his Christendom tendencies/past. Your "bio" starts out: "A gay Christian..." Do we see the termination of one of those two tags in the near future?

    Sincerely,
    blund

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  2. I purely hope not, blund.

    In his profile, my friend Rick over at a new life emerging says, "I am more interested in knowing what God is doing in your soul than I am about your theology. Personally, I don't have the guts to follow Jesus, so I often settle for being a Christian."

    In the same way, I think there are folks who don't have the guts to be Christians, and so just are "churchians" (people who follow the Church, rather than Christ) or just end up following the crowd.

    I'm with Rick, by the way. My score of hypocrisy isn't as low as it should be - after all, I was closeted for 30 years (15 of them sober, for cryin' out loud). I was more than willing to love and accept friends who were gay, but was unwilling to extend the love of God to myself. That scores pretty high on the H-scale...

    There is much that's valuable in following Christ - though many in the gay community would disagree. I think, once again, it's from seeing people who think they're following the Christian church, yet are far from following Christ.

    The quote won't be exact, but I am reminded of Brennan Manning's statement to the effect that, "The greatest cause of atheism in the world today are Christians, who claim Jesus with their lips and then deny Him with their lifestyle. That is what an unbelieving world finds simply unbelievable."

    By the way, if you want to read what a real follower of Christ feels about toxic religion, check out this post. Any post he writes is great writing.

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  3. Steve

    Its a real real tough road....you have my empathy, sympathy, and admiration for the strength you show in this difficult struggle.

    Be true to yourself, as best you can, and f*ck everyone who cant take a joke.

    Pete

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  4. I believe it was Chesteron who said something along the lines of, "Christianity has not been tried and found wanting. It has been found hard and so not been tried."

    One problem is that we tend to identify the status quo with the Christian vision, especially if the status quo serves our own needs. If that means discriminating against gays and lesbians, then the hard part must be for gays and lesbians to straighten up (pardon the pun) and fly right. It doesn't occur to us that maybe the hard part is for straight society and the church to stop treaing gays and lesbians badly.

    I am so tired of some Christians and some versions of Christianity. As a Catholic, it is hard not to feel constantly bashed loudly and publicly by people whose own behavior would not stand much scrutiny.

    Just imagine how God must feel about us!

    hfwybe -- the gnawing suspicion that you are the last rat on the ship and that it has already sunk

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  5. Hi! I stumbled on your website and read thru several of your blogs (the
    'Narnia' caught my attention)and being a Christian too for 30 years,
    noticed a lot of things I
    wanted to respond to.
    One thing that sticks out
    like a sore thumb is that you basically do not believe
    the Bible at all. You are putting what YOU think and
    feel and what your body feels above the Word of God. Most of
    the first part of the book
    of Romans deals with these
    same issues (homosexuality,
    which is considered a work
    of the flesh etc.)and in
    Revelations too, Jesus addresses more strongly whole churches at that time
    that were practicing works
    of the flesh in various forms,fornication,adultery
    etc. and He told us we have
    to 'lay these works down.'
    Anything you feed will GROW.
    Evidently you fed (for many
    years)(in the closet as you
    call it) a whole other life
    that is contrary to what the
    exact directions are in the
    Bible. Speaking as a person
    that ate mega too much food
    for years! I can relate. Also, I had several friends
    that were Christians, went
    into homosexuality then LEFT
    it, got married but even they will tell you they sought the Lord for deliverance for this reason:
    Because they knew it was
    SPIRITUALLY wrong and they
    WANTED TO PLEASE THE LORD.
    (They are still married,are
    in their late forties and
    doing fine.)(Many of them will tell you too they were very stubborn when it came to these sins.) So I'm asking
    you...what are you feeding
    yourself? What kind of re-
    lationship do you have with
    the Lord? Do you want to just obey Him because you
    love Him?
    We all face temptations.
    When you look at the 'cycle
    of temptations' listed in
    the first part of James and
    when you realize we all have things that we should
    overcome, did you ever go to the Lord and say:"Lord,
    I'll just obey you, because
    the Bible says so?" So much of what I read on your site says this: "I will place my own body,what I feel and my
    personal experience above
    the Word of God." I am not
    trying to wound you! But God set down principles for
    us to live by. Basically, He
    says: 'do it My Way.' To be honest,many of the gay
    people I have met just don't WANT to do that.(and I have 20+ yrs at this) Also,
    you don't mention the devil
    entices? And have you ever
    sought the Lord in the area
    of holiness? God is Holy--so
    holy we can't even imagine.
    I have met MANY carnal Christians. (I worked in a
    Bible school and churches for over 10 years.) Carnal
    means you let things other
    than God's Word shape your
    attitude, words and actions,
    thoughts. You will become what you habitually meditate. (As a man thinketh
    in his heart, so is he. proverbs) And do you judge
    yourself? Where you don't
    measure up to the Bible? We're supposed to. No one else should have to.

    The Bible is clear that we
    must grow out of these things and that lust (which
    is inordinate or wrongly place desire (and it is DESIRE) is something WE 'leave off.' WE
    have to CHOOSE to purify ourselves and be
    asking the Holy Spirit for
    help and power continually.
    (Romans and James.) We do that by letting go of our personal
    desires and choosing His ways and plans,even when they are contrary to ours.
    Let's face it: GOD made the rules and He wants us to keep the rules--because we
    please Him with obedience
    (Jesus said: 'if you love
    me, KEEP my commands')and
    so he can show forth His
    holiness and goodness in us.
    Also, obeying the Bible keeps you living by faith.
    No one said it is comfortable!

    Also, you seem to be angry
    at churches and are blaming them because they are
    obeying the Bible in this
    area. And the adoption thing:
    Being a person who is working on her first adoption (I wanted Mongolia
    but their government shut it
    down basically) this bothers
    me. That church has the
    responsibility of children
    and of course, they are going to follow the Bible. That's what they are supposed to do. And many
    foster homes these days are
    VERY nice...not all are like
    the stuff you see in the
    media. When American kids
    get adopted, it's MOSTLY
    with their foster family.

    Also, the average length of
    gay partnerships is 5 years
    or LESS. And in 20 years I have yet to be in a 'happy' gay home. There is usually a lot of power struggles going on. I do know many
    gays (men and women) and they read the
    Bible blindly, picking and
    choosing what parts they
    want to accept and ignoring parts they do not like. Ask
    yourself if you are doing the same thing. They won't
    even ask the Lord for healing in this area, they
    are so proud, stubborn and
    convinced they know more than God does.
    The friends I know that did choose to accept the Word of God at face value
    said to themselves
    "God doesn't like this and
    so I will forsake it" and
    stayed away from temptation.
    God's power set them free as
    proved to Him that that was
    what they wanted because it
    was right,what He said to do
    and they are not bothered by
    it now and have NO desire to
    go back. I intend no con-
    demnation here..but for years, you fed all those desires and they grew and now they are ruling you and coloring all your current experiences. Example: the Chinese worship
    gods of trees..and they are
    sincere, but that doesn't
    mean it is right Biblically
    or righteous.
    You must consider the Word
    of God and how much you will
    choose to love Jesus in all
    these areas. Being able to
    discipline your thought life
    and what you see, read and
    attend to is the mark of a
    spiritually mature person.
    Proverbs says to 'attend to
    HIS word and keep it in the
    midst of thine heart.' There
    is a 'way of life' and 'few
    there be that find it.' You
    need to ask yourself if you
    are willing and are truly
    seeking 'to be changed into
    His likeness?' His Power comes along
    with right choices. Righteousness actually
    means "God's way of doing and being right." When you
    chose Jesus and were washed
    in the Blood, your inward
    man changed, but you have to
    LEARN God's ways of doing
    right. That's what the Bible
    is for-it's your Book of
    Directions.


    Sent to you by a friend who
    understands.....but who loves the Bible more...

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  6. NCS ~

    Seriously, learn when to shut up.

    This guy is finally being honest about the hurts that primarily the church and christians have caused him, and you start preaching!

    Ask God for wisdom and discernment or better yet, Psalm 141:3

    Set a guard over my mouth, O LORD; keep watch over the door of my lips.

    If there is one thing we as Christians need to do - it's to shut up and start loving our neighbours. You want to change the world? Ask God to give You His heart for those who are hurting.

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  7. Hmmm,
    I do have God's heart for
    those who are hurting...and
    I myself have been majorly
    hurt by many churches for various reasons...most
    probably everyone who attends any church has their
    'war' stories, churches being what they are. But
    I know enough to stay away
    too. I definitely love my
    neighbor, but I was primarily talking about what
    he has written on this website--re: the scriptural guidelines for
    these matters. In my city,
    there are several outreaches
    specifically to the gay
    community where the outreach is with compassion.
    Chicago is not a city that will ever embrace those methods.
    (I lived there over 20 years) I was referring to the Biblical
    attitude of confessing and
    forsaking known sin. When you forsake something, you
    leave it and everything with
    it behind. This includes
    books, movies, articles,etc.
    etc. See, WE have something
    to do...Jesus will not do
    that for us. (That would be
    like praying daily to wake
    up 30 lbs. thinner....it won't happen--I have to do something about that) the
    friends I have that forsook that,do not drive Lexus cars
    or wear Rolexes. They do outreach to the poor continually and go on mission trips and their children do also. But they have told me (including those that stayed celibate) that INWARD celibacy was the toughest and they did not put themselves in places
    or read materials that made
    them think otherwise. They did the 'cut it off' thing. I feel that we are to 'love
    the sinner, hate the sin.'
    This includes ANY sin a person commits, not just
    homosexuality. Again, I
    reiterate---WE choose to
    follow New Testament Scripture. WE do that. Jesus
    doesn't do that for us. That
    truly is our choice.
    And, after nearly 25 years
    or so in the ministry in
    every possible venue, I do
    know and understand. I am
    an independent and not affiliated with any denomination. I have been part of several. NONE are
    perfect. Humans being what
    they are, that will not change. And again, I mention
    we ALL struggle in different
    areas...but I do lump all
    sins into one bundle called
    "SIN."
    Again,some of these experiences (foster homes etc.) are specific to Chicago. There are a whole
    lot of great churches out
    there too and a whole lot
    of great Christians. Check
    out 'Lang Fang Village'
    James Robison, Paula White.
    Everyone is not like those
    who have met.....

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  8. PS..I know whereof I speak:
    I'm the person who began the
    'Narnia move' more than 11
    years ago. It truly was for
    a special group of children.
    I went thru things so terrible I will not describe
    them here-Jesus knoweth--by
    adults and ministers who were so jealous,selfish and
    greedy that I despaired of
    life and that includes public mockery, church mockery and wickedness I don't even want to think about. No one understood
    except those children.
    So, I do know. And I know
    each Scripture is precious
    and contains the inherent
    power to cause itself to come to pass. The Name,
    The Word and the Blood and
    righteousness delivers from
    death itself. NCS




    So, I do know

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  9. God here. I absolve you of everything. There's nothing wrong with homosexuality. Those overblown egos who produced the bible got Jesus' message all wrong. Clearly you're a thoughtful, kind individual who tries to consider the needs of others in choosing your own path, and that's about as much as I and the the archangels are looking for - Satan can't stand bleeding hearts so you're right there, mate. Your only mistake is listening to all those God-botherers. They sure drive me up the wall. Besides, do you think we don't understand the laws of supply and demand up here? We needed everyone to be heterosexual 2000 years ago because homo-saps was looking a bit dicey in the survival department. But now, wow - you'd think any sensible social institution - religious or otherwise - 'd be encouraging the entire planet to go gay, what with the blasted overpopulation crisis.

    Oh well. Look, I realise you probably think this is all probably a bit flippant for God, but truly, I've got a sense of humour too. The main thing I want for you is too be happy, and to try to live without hurting other living things on the planet, and try not to destroy the environment. That's it.
    Anyway,

    ReplyDelete
  10. Hello everyone,
    I must say that this (all that has been said) grieves my heart so. I believe that God's word prevails over all.

    Yes, tis true that whatever we do, we must seek God and His will. There is more than 1 theme in the bible, tho all is to lead to the birth of Jesus and the return of Him, our heavenly King.

    But I find it common that many problems throughout the old and new testaments were because God's people were not unified.

    We have all been hurt by one church or another. We've all been hurt by many people in our lives as well. It doesn't differ if we are followers of Christ or not.

    Being a "Christian" means "little Christs". What I have seen here is neither good nor bad.

    It’s great to have a place where we can debate and learn from one another. BUT, we must all agree that love IS Jesus' number 1 mission.

    And to whom did Jesus love the most? His Father of course, GOD, our creator.

    Jesus (as all of us tend to believe selfishly) died to only save us. It is not the only reason. Jesus was SO grieved by His task of dying on the cross. He endured so much pain even up to that point. He sweat blood!

    He DIDN'T want to do it to the point of defying human norms.

    But it was His love, devotion, and complete obedience to our GOD that He died on that cross. And it was our GOD that lifted Him to glory because of it.

    Now, lets pretend for one moment that Adam and Eve never sinned. There in fact would not be need of the bible. No, the Word of God would not have even been needed.

    But, as we read in John 1:1:
    "In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God."

    When God created the heavens and the earth, after every creation God said "and it was GOOD". Jesus was there every step of the way. His word (the translation that the Gospel John uses) was both important to Jews and gentiles alike.

    This proves the importance of God's word and a need for Jesus.

    Adam and Eve were not created to sin. No, they were perfect in God's sight.

    It is indeed not human nature to sin. The biggest problem is we like it. Yes, I said it. We all enjoy sinning.

    Jesus came to prove just how much we were not created to sin. In the fact that He made the way to be found once again perfect in God's sight.

    Jesus, God's word, is the unifying factor of Christianity. As said by a little girl, "Jesus is called the Word because He is all God wanted to say to us".

    He not only makes us unified with each other, but unifies us in God. He completes our 'family'.

    So whether or not homosexuality is in fact a sin, my call to every claimed "Christ follower" out there, is this: "Love the Lord our God with all your heart. And lean not on your own understanding. In all your ways acknowledge HIM, and he will make your paths straight".

    Thank you. God bless you.

    Jeremiah 29:11-14a

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