Thinking Out Loud

October 5, 2012

If You’re Gay But Not Happy

It’s been a year since I ran the letter which appears below, a letter occasioned by the suicide of a young gay teen. It’s not a perfect letter, but I felt it needed to appear again. What follows is something that really matters.

I’ve written other comments here about how I interpret the present social climate, and I don’t believe the issue is black and white, therefore I avoid words like right and wrong. That may disturb some of my more conservative readers, but their perspective might be different if the issue had literally come home.

This was also written in response to a couple of blogs by gay Christian teens that I was following a year ago when I wrote it. It expresses my heartfelt hope for their future and my desire to see their faith grow.

Dear __________,

Somehow I found your blog today. I’m from a different part of the world, and a different generation, but I want you to know that there is no mistaking your pain, and I could feel that pain in your writing and I care very deeply for you.

High School can be a terrible environment. People commit verbal and physical abuse easily, and even the kid with the greatest degree of conformity can unwittingly become the target of the week. The bullies act out on their own insecurities, perhaps even insecurities as to their own sexual identity, though you don’t dare suggest that out loud.Your life is a story that’s being written page-by-page, day-by-day. Only you get to choose the ending. I know you’re going through a period of depression, but your story doesn’t have to have a tragic ending. It doesn’t have to go the way you think it does. Your story can have an ending where you conquer, where you rise above the circumstances and perhaps even get to change some of the circumstances. You can write new chapters where things move in a different direction, where you can look back and say, ‘It didn’t get better overnight, but here’s a scene that was the beginning of where it got better.’

You should also know there are now alternative high schools where people are more accepting of your present sexual orientation. You might want to seriously look into that. Your parents would have probably helped you with college and university costs, they just need to be convinced that in your case you need that help sooner. But you might be able to find something closer to home if you live in a larger city. There are many ways to get that high school diploma.

I said present sexual orientation, not because I want to get into that discussion, but because you’re still fairly young, and like I said, there are always new chapters being written. On the one hand, I recognize that you know your feelings better than anyone, so the people who say, ‘This is just a phase he’s going through,’ aren’t being honest about how things are. But on the other hand, I wouldn’t want you to believe the lie that says, ‘This is who I am.’ Your sexual identity isn’t 100% of who you are, what you can accomplish and the person you can become. If you write on a piece of paper, ‘I am gay;’ write it in pencil, not in pen. You might actually some day need the eraser. I say that not because I’m doubting the reality of who you are now, but simply because, as a young teen, you are still a work in progress.

I should probably end by telling you that part of the reason I’m taking the time to write this is because I believe in a God that loves all people and therefore doesn’t hate anyone. I’ve seen other blogs written by young teens who are gay but have a deep faith, and are trying to follow Jesus in every aspect of their life. They pray, they read the Bible, and they try to find ways to serve others in Christ’s name. They are making a difference in their world. I have no doubt about that, but of course, also being gay, they remain a bit of a mystery to some of my friends and even me at times. I think God’s capable of sorting that, and I invite you to reach out to him in prayer, because I believe that He alone is the only source capable of helping you through the pain. I believe if you take one step toward him, he will come running to you.

Paul.


*see comments

September 8, 2011

Wrestling With The Gay Issue at Church: When Good is Not Good Enough

Filed under: issues — Tags: , , , — paulthinkingoutloud @ 9:21 am

You may have noticed an item in the link list yesterday that looked like this:

The Salvation Army Captain in our area also happens to blog at Il Capitano Inquisitore. This week, he’s dealing with the contrast between the S.A.’s statement on gay and lesbian issues, and what it doesn’t say about when those same ‘welcomed’ people want to step into a leadership role. He tells me the comments pale in comparison to the off-the-blog mail…

As I read through some of the comments that have been posted for public reading last night, I kept thinking that as “good” as some committed lesbian and gay relationships may be, they fall short of God’s ideal. And Biblical Greek has a word for “missing the mark” and that word, unfortunately is sin.

Anyway, I tried to get at that last night with this comment; perhaps some of you can catch what I’m trying to say and find a way to say it more clearly; or perhaps you disagree…

I wish I could articulate this better, but here goes…

I wonder sometimes if instead of looking at human behavior as being either right or wrong in God’s eyes, we should look at our various responses to His intentions as falling into categories like

  • good
  • better
  • best

In other words, a person who has lived 24 years in a committed gay relationship obviously sees some value to that; especially when one considers the hurt and rejection they have had to face from others over the course of those years. But in God’s eyes there may have been a ‘better’ or even a ‘best’ that they missed out on. Taking that to the next logical step, we can see how anything that falls short of God’s ideal standard could by some measure be considered sin because that’s how the word sin was originally defined. But it would appear to some that it was still ‘good.’ So the question is can there be activities that appear ‘good’ (either to some or to all) but also appear to be ‘sin’ (to those who have studied God’s intention or ideal plan)?

The Bible says that there is both fleeting pleasure to sin (Heb 11:25) and an apparent ‘right-ness’ to sinful activity (Prov 16:25). Both of these express a rather short-term view to things. So in the same way teens use the term ‘whatever…’ we adults are equally willing to say, ‘It’s all good.’ Because we’re looking at the short-term. And in the short-term, it really does seem good. But God takes a longer-term view of things. He wants us to cast aside simple ‘good’ and aim for better and really aim for best, because that’s what He is all about (Isaiah 55:9).

So at the end of the journey, I could then look my gay friends in the eye and say, “It wasn’t so much wrong, as it is you missed out on God’s best; and to the degree that you knew you missing out on God’s ideal design, then that constitutes what God calls sin.”

…Like I said, I wish I could articulate that better, but I hope you get the general idea…

I guess the “grey-ness” of this issue should already suggest to us that a binary (right/wrong) approach is too simplistic and that something more like a scale is needed. However, in the context as seen by a holy God, if the scale went from one to ten, everything less than a ten would miss the mark.  And just maybe, if we know the ‘ten’ is out there, it does indeed miss the mark. 

So the direction I’m trying to approach this from make any sense?  Feel free to comment here, or join the discussion there.

February 9, 2011

Wednesday Link List

So here’s the question:  If something is being posted and linked all over the blogosphere, should I include it here, or do I assume you’ve read it elsewhere?  Sometimes I exclude items that are ubiquitous in Christian Blogland, but then I always wonder if that means someone misses something I assumed everyone knew.  Leave your opinion in the comments.  And now, on to this week’s list:

  • David MacGregor’s blog introduces the Hillsongs recording of It is Well With My Soul, recorded as a benefit for Queensland flood relief.   But as a minister in Brisbane, he finds the song hard to sing at this early stage of the rebuilding effort.
  • “Many scholars believe, and I am persuaded, that the biblical Gospel of Matthew was designed to be used by the church as a catechism, or handbook for training disciples.”  This is theme of an article by Chaplain Mike at Internet Monk which kicks of a series.
  • Okay this one was overdue.  Fox KTLA’s report begins: “Crystal Cathedral’s chief financial officer –- who received a six-figure housing allowance from the now-bankrupt church –- has retired after 33 years with the organization. Fred Southard, 75, said he believed it was time to let someone else have a chance at his job, and that he wanted to help the ministry reduce expenses.”  Yes.  Definitely.  Give that six-figure job to someone else now that there’s probably not enough money to support a four-figure job.  Of course, Southward justifies himself as the job was once “a ministerial function” albeit in “the early days.”
  • It’s weird, but as I was reading Pete Wilson’s post Everyone Needs Healing, it reminded me of the first part of the worship chorus Mighty to Save.  We are all broken people for whom the cross of Christ is sufficient.
  • How does a guy from Alabama end up spending most of the past decade doing campus ministry in The Philippines?  That was the question we asked here exactly a year ago in a profile of Kuya Kevin.   BTW, his blog is still going strong.
  • Andy Pierson at SoulJournaler discovers that denominational differences make the Christian blogosphere a cruel place sometimes.  Here’s a sentence I wish I’d written: ” Because I do not come forward with a specific denominational statement I am in this nebulous no-man’s land. I have on the other hand made very clear “statements of faith” through blog posts.”  There’s more stuff here some bloggers might identify with.
  • It appears the Fred Phelps gang’s annual picketing at San Diego’s Comic-Con met their match when a much larger group decided to drown out their message with one of their own.
  • Their restaurants are closed on Sunday so you know that Chick-Fil-A is a very pro Christian establishment.  But these days, pro-Christian is assumed to mean anti-gay.  Especially when you donate food to one group and not another.   Read the article at CNN’s Eatocracy blog.
  • Yet another article on the church’s approach to the LGBT community?  Yes, I included this one because Julie Clawson nicely summarizes the various categories that a church’s approach to this issue might fall into.  Not including the extremes, of course.
  • Erik Raymond calls his article Prioritize Priorities: Things I Wish I Knew Before Planting a Church, but in fact, this young pastor from Omaha, Nebraska offers some basic advice that can never be repeated enough.  HT: DD
  • Wil Mancini has Eleven Trends for 2011 at Out of Ur.  One of those trends that is emerging in various quarters:  Small is the new big.
  • Something a little different now:  Bruce Reyes-Chow, a Presbyterian, suggests 10 Ways Liberal Christianity Loses Credibility.  Sample: “Gate-Keeping Social Justice — Just because someone disagrees with us theologically, that does not mean that any actions of social justice that they take on is invalid.”
  • A longer article at Reboot Christianity contrasts the way we understand what it means to “do ministry” with the way the early church would have understood it.  “Most evangelical churches would be scandalized if a pastor taught such things! Imagine…shutting down all those programs and ministries, and instead teaching the Bible every day, fellowshiping with other believers constantly, and giving generously to your community (with no strings attached). Pastors would lose their jobs left and right.”
  • Challies notes that Bart Ehrman has heated up his rhetoric to the point of calling New Testament writings “forgeries.”  Here’s a sample of this article: “Ehrman’s beef is not so much with ancient forgers but with present-day believers who uncritically accept Biblical writings as genuine and consider it a sacrilege to question the Bible’s authenticity. “Forged” is just the latest bombshell Ehrman has lobbed at his former co-religionists.”
  • Here’s the 411 on the graphic below.  [cue the extra reverb]  It’s CAPTAIN SALVATION. Christian Comic International is reporting that “North Carolina USA based Salvation Comics is publishing a new, full-color super-hero comic book entitled “Captain Salvation,” written by Curt Hawn and illustrated by former Marvel and DC artist Greg Waller (“Stargate SG-1,” “Night of the Living Dead,” “Lady Death”). The Christian character-based company was founded by Hawn and Joshua Carpenter who met in 2002 as youth leaders at a church summer camp. Hawn sold a company he started in Atlanta to finance the project. Carpenter is an alumni from Christ For The Nations Institute and is operating as National Sales Director for the company. The first series, “The Kingdom Strikes Back,” will be a 5-issues in length.   Read more at The Spectral Realm.

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