sexual orientation

the sacrifices we make, the losses we endure

the sacrifices we make, the losses we endure

Spring and fall are arguably the seasons when I feel the most in tune with my creative and spiritual energy, and this spring, I've been thinking quite a bit about the cycle of seasons and all the metaphorical wisdom there.

Around March and April is when spring typically starts to roll around in the Northern Hemisphere, and spring always brings to mind several different interrelated ideas. Renewal. Revival. Rebirth. Regrowth. Resurrection. And if you notice, all those words have that prefix re- attached to the front (sorry, everyone, this is where my inner linguist comes out), which tells you that it's a return to something, a going back to a previous state. But the underlying connotation there is that there was a departure from that previous state first, and in all those words, the implication is that there was some form of destruction or deterioration or death.  And as with the seasons, I think this same cycle tends to play out in the lives of queer people as we come into our own. I think many of us tend to wade through a season of sacrifice and loss prior to finding renewal and regrowth. 

a misconception of LGBTQ Christians

a misconception of LGBTQ Christians

I recently had a really eye-opening conversation that left me pretty stunned in retrospect, not necessarily because I was surprised about where the conversation went, but more because it was a powerful reminder of something I already knew to be true. The feeling that overtook me the next day was that of a hard truth finally beginning to settle into your bones and not being quite sure what you're supposed to or can even do about it. And it's been something I've been thinking of ever since.

During this conversation with a group of self-described "not religious" people, I was reminded of the fact that the perception the majority of the world holds is that faith, but Christianity in particular, is wholly incompatible with also being LGBTQ. This is far from shocking, but something I didn't realize is that many people who don't adhere to any specific religion often don't see faith as being something that's also intrinsic.

Gay ≠ Lesser

I recently sat down with one of my friends to catch up on life, and the reflections that I had after that conversation are the basis of this post. Now, I generally try to refrain from writing angry/irritated posts just for the sake of it, but I’ve been realizing that if this blog is going to be about my experiences, it has to include everything, because other people have probably felt those things too. So I’ll try not to just go off on everything, but what I write here is going to encompass all the different things that I’ve felt and experienced. What I’ve been thinking about since my friend and I had that conversation is this: why do people automatically view us as being somehow dirtier, more sinful, and less sincere about our faith just because we identify as LGBT? Why do our theology and our motivations get questioned just because we identify as LGBT? And why do we always have to overprove the veracity of our actions to the satisfaction of straight Christians?

These things have been a source of frustration for me since the beginning of my journey to figure out what exactly being gay and being a Christian at the same time meant for me. All of the different things that people have said just don’t add up.

Even at the church where I attended youth group during high school, the mixed messages abounded. They would tell us that “experiencing same-sex attraction isn’t a sin in and of itself,” but at the same time they would constantly remind us to be “fighting it,” “battling it,” “taking up your cross daily,” and a plethora of other Christianisms. They told us that it would be a lifelong struggle that we would have to contend with. Of course, they were quick to add that it was the same for people who struggled with lust or doubt or any other number of things, but they didn’t make those things sound as dirty and contaminated. It was only us, it seemed, that they expected to be miserably “fighting” this thing for the rest of our lives. So how are you not supposed to feel somehow inferior or more sinful because of that, especially if you don’t feel like you’re constantly “struggling?” Then, of course, they would tell you that you’re getting comfortable in your sin, that you’re becoming desensitized to it. But I thought it wasn’t a sin? Oh, it’s not. But then why do we talk about it like this? Why do we talk about it like it’s this thing that’s going to catch up to us and eat us alive if we aren’t constantly running away from it every moment of every day?

It was only us, it seemed, that they expected to be miserably “fighting” this thing for the rest of our lives.

Those are the kinds of things that I don’t understand, the contradictions and disconnects between words and actions that don’t make sense to me. Like this one. Why is it implicitly assumed that only one aspect of my personhood should so deeply affect the rest of me that the sincerity of my faith and motivations should be questioned?

I may have said some of these things before, but I’m going to say them again, because people still don’t get it. No, I do not have some other underlying character flaw or theological misunderstanding to explain my acceptance of the fact that I’m gay. I am not basing my identity in my sexual orientation as opposed to Christ just because I’ve decided not to beat myself up on account of who I am. I am not idolizing a relationship with another human being over Christ just because I believe that what the Bible says about homosexuality doesn’t apply to loving same-sex relationships today. And no, there wasn’t any abuse or neglect in my childhood that somehow caused me to turn out gay. That’s just not how life works; sorry to break it to you.

I'm not idolizing anything just because I've decided to accept that this is the way that I am.

Besides, you would never ask those questions of straight people. No one criticizes straight Christians for idolizing their relationships with another person over Christ, even though I would say that a vast majority of straight Christians do indeed idolize their relationships with their significant others over their relationship with Christ. But you’ll accuse me of idolatry just because I’m gay?

And no one would ever dare telling a straight person that they’re basing their identity in their sexual orientation instead of in Christ just because they embrace it, never mind all of the straight Christian guys addicted to porn, disrespecting women, and perpetuating a damaging Christian manliness culture. And the straight Christian girls don’t get off either, focusing only on outward appearance, idolizing marriage, and continuing a hurtful Christian purity culture. But you’ll accuse me of basing my identity in something false just because I’m gay and tired of berating myself for it?

Now, before you go off on me, let me emphasize that all of the things I just listed above about Christians are purely stereotypes. I’m sure most of you already recognized that, but the point is that you would never reduce straight people to just one aspect of their person. And if a straight person does get into some kind of trouble, you would never pin it on their sexual orientation. So why do it to us?

I think what people need to realize is that gay ≠ sinful and straight ≠ holy. Gay is not the opposite of holiness any more than straight is the opposite of holiness.

So with those things in mind, I’d challenge anyone reading to realize that we (LGBT people) are just like you. We’re (specifically Christian LGBT people) just fallen people living in a fallen world trying to follow Jesus as best as we know how. Doing that in and of itself is already pretty tough, especially on this earth, and it would be great if you didn’t question our every move just because we also happen to be LGBT. That doesn’t mean that we get a free pass on everything in life; it just means that you should try and treat us just like everybody else, regardless of our orientation.

If that happens, we just might see a lot more LGBT people start becoming a part of the church and a part of our family.