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,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.
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.
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.Yup, I think I've had enough of this particular group for a while....
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.