"If you want your children to be intelligent, read them fairy tales. If you want them to be more intelligent, read them more fairy tales." Albert Einstein

11 October 2011

National Coming Out Day


October 11th has been designated by the Human Rights Campaign as National Coming Out Day.  It is a day to spread awareness and for straight allies to support their LGBT friends. 

Those of you who have followed my blog for a while may have noticed an interesting trend.  Although I have written extensively about many other issues related to the church and to my exit from the fundamentalist movement, I have been rather silent on the issues regarding homosexuality and the church.   Also, until recently my book reviews covered quite a range of books, but never books that discussed homosexuality or featured protagonists who were members of the LGBT community.  Then, in what may have seemed to be a sudden change, I started posting reviews of both fiction and non-fiction books about the LGBT community in general and its relationship with the church specifically. Possibly some of you are wondering, "Why the change?"

I am going to quote something A'isha Marbach, who has guest posted on John Shore's blog, wrote. I don't share all of her life experiences or understand everything she's going through, but we have more in common than might be expected:
“God, please make me pure. Take these feelings from me and make it so I can like boys instead of girls. Amen.” This is the prayer I prayed so many times I lost count. Throughout high school my one goal was to live a life pleasing to God. I’m not sure exactly where I got the message that it wasn’t okay to be a lesbian, that God didn’t approve, but that is the message I got loud and clear. So I pushed all those crushes, all those tingly feelings I got when I saw a pretty woman, deep inside me, and pretended to like boys. I needed to be accepted by people around me, and I wanted God to approve of my life.
Like A'isha, I realized early on that I was a lesbian. Like A'isha, I also realized that the Christianity I saw practiced around me didn't allow for members of the LGBT community to also be Christians. If you watch the video the Gay Christian Network has produced, you will hear the same story echoed over and over again: many gay Christians, when faced with a choice between their faith and their orientation, have chosen to squash their orientation in order to please God.

The decision to be "out and proud" as a gay person is especially complicated when the only thing one ever hears in church is how awful it is to be gay, how much God hates homosexuality, and stories of gay people who have gone through ex-gay ministries and experienced some sort of recovery.  So gay Christians traditionally have ended up with two choices: keep their faith and attempt "recovery" from their orientation, or embrace their orientation and deny their faith.  Until recently I didn't know there was a third option.


After much thought, study, prayer, contemplation, reading, crying, and consideration, I have come to the conclusion that my faith and my orientation don't cancel each other out.  I am proud to say that I am a gay Christian.
The Christian community has for so long excluded gays and lesbians that it is very difficult for any LGBT person to come to the realization that God loves them and wants a relationship with them. Even if not every Christian spouts, “God hates fags,” like Fred Phelps does, that is indeed the message we get, as long as every Christian doesn’t stand up and say, “No, that’s not true. God loves you.”
Because of this history between LGBT people and many Christians, it’s very difficult to meet gays and lesbians who are also Christians. Honestly, why should any of us choose to be part of a group that condemns us? Fortunately there are many like me that are coming to realize that it’s God’s followers who mistakenly condemn us, and not God himself. (Emphasis mine; the rest of A'isha's post can be read here.)
My faith is very important to me.  My orientation is, too, and it wasn't until recently that I was able to allow the two to coexist peacefully.  I was reading in Matthew 8 where Jesus heals a man who has leprosy. The first three verses say, "When Jesus came down from the mountainside, large crowds followed him. A man with leprosy came and knelt before him and said, 'Lord, if you are willing, you can make me clean.' Jesus reached out his hand and touched the man.  'I am willing,' he said. 'Be clean!"'  I cannot even begin to count the number of times I said, "Lord, if you are willing, you can make me straight." Always before God was silent on the issue.  For the first time I ever, I finally heard Him speak.  He said, "My precious child, you are not sick.  I don't fix what isn't broken. I love you just as you are."

If you have questions about the idea of being gay and Christian, I strongly recommend you visit the Gay Christian Network's website or watch their videos on YouTube.  Of course, you are also more than welcome to email me with any questions you may have.  And I'd also recommend visiting John Shore's website and the Canyon Walker Connections site, as both have more information than I can possibly fit in one blog post. I will certainly be writing follow-up posts in the weeks ahead; check back periodically for updates or become one of my faithful blog followers. 

10 comments:

Thom said...

I can tell from your words that this is not a decision you made lightly. Christians have inflicted a lot of pain under the cover of love. I know that to be true, as I have been on the receiving end. Ultimately, as Christians we need to examine our own lives and our relationship with Christ and strive to be what we believe He is telling us to be, which is more important than what we think we are. You and I have come to different conclusions, but the important thing to realize is that God loves us as a father and he does not abandon us. Thankfully, our future with Him is dependent on one decision -- to accept Christ and be born again -- and not on the multitude of decisions we make beneath the clouds of culture and modern Christianity. Imagine the emptiness if there were no ultimate victory. I think, in your case as in mine, whichever side of the question we find ourselves embracing, life will have its difficulties. Life is like that. I believe that the Bible is clear on homosexuality and I accept that, but I don't love you any less for coming to a different conclusion.

DaisyDeadhead said...

Always thought it was weird that the song was "Just as I am"--but that this song apparently didn't apply equally to everyone.

But... well, yes, of course it does. :)

Thom said...

Daisy . . . the song always applied to everyone, just as you say. But, it is in our brokenness that we go to Him, just as we are . . . and then we put Him above all things, which changes who we are to be more like Him. A slow process sometimes, but it depends on believing first, as you do, that He welcomes all of us as we are. The important thing is to pursue Christ and be open to His will for our lives. Faith trumps sexuality.

Amanda said...

I came from John Shore's site. Excellent post, Jenni. I wish you every happiness :)

Sandy said...

Came over from John Shore's blog. Thanks for your courage and best wishes as you embrace what the future holds.

Glad, too, that you have found the UCC. It is my spiritual home (my partner is a UCC pastor) and I could not feel more welcome than I do there.

Julie said...

:-D

diachenko said...

Actually, faith does not trump sexuality. That's like saying that faith trumps left-handedness, or faith trumps being a certain height. Faith and sexuality should not be at war with each other.

thewaterisfine said...

Beautiful story! Thank you so much for sharing. Congrats!

Katie said...

Thom said it better than I could.

surfer123 said...

Reading your post...where you said that God was silent on your prayers for healing...and then the words "My dear child you are not sick" nearly made me burst into tears here in Starbucks.

The same thing happened to me. I prayed for healing. I prayed for change. I tried to be straight. And God was silent. Then I started asking the right question - God, please, please give me wisdom on this. And I've never had God move so much in my life.

I've come to the same conclusion as you. It was painstaking. I sometimes wonder why God didn't give me the answer right away, or make it more clear to me. But the journey is what makes us who we are. I am still in the closet so to speak, but that will soon change I hope. The thing is, I now am rather passionate about the way that the church is being so STUPID about homosexuality. It's good to see that it's changing in many denominations. But there is still a long way to go. I hope one day I can help change people's minds.