Category Archives: Church

Mumbles from the closet

I couldn’t do it.

No matter how much I tried, how much I prayed for the opportunity that presented itself, I could not force out the words to my small group Bible study.

“I’m gay”

Two words that would radically shift the dynamics I think of our Bible study. As much as we talk about trust and love and commitment to each others’ spiritual well-being, at my heart, I’m scared and I’m proud.

I spend a majority of my growing up years in the Bible belt. I’ve seen the ebb and flow of how the fundamentalist perspective of homosexuality has shaped and formed the evangelical understanding of “gay people.” I always get this smoldering vision of pitchforks and “pray away the gay camps” and all sorts of anathema.

But I’m proud too. Being open and honest here means that I’ll lose the affirmation and approval I get from my fellow Christians. I know a lot of theology and I more importantly, I’ve experienced so much of God’s grace and mercy. When I open my mouth, people do seem to acknowledge that I speak wisdom. Telling Christian people that one is gay has a pretty predictable side effect of them no longer regarding anything “spiritual” or “religious” that I say as legitimate. (And I need that approval apparently.)

Of course, I say all this with the full disclosure that I’m always wrestling with the insecurities that I’m a coward (Rev 21.8) and offensive to God in my pride (Prov 3.34).

Really these two fears aren’t all that distant from each other. Now that I think about it, perhaps the opportunity wasn’t given to me. I did try to force the issue, trying to prove that I am not distrustful of my group and that I can be as open and as honest as the rest. We can talk for hours and hours about the richness of God’s grace or the passionate love that backs His judgment and wrath. We can laugh and joke in the fellowship we share. But when it comes to confession, the baring of our hearts with each other… I feel that I’m hiding so much and it’s not fair to my small group or to myself.

But that could just be the shameful ravings of an individual who’s at a loss presently. I really should have been able to do this, but I just could not.

Ah well, there’s next week, right?

Wonder of wonders, that talk today was rather helpful.

I didn’t realize how much I was keeping to myself, and in letting it all go this afternoon, to hang in the air, and in fact actually sharing the burden with another brother in Christ was so freeing. There was a mutual understanding too, and I didn’t have to deal with any stereotypical silliness.

I’ll never figure out why I never seem to have that trust in God. Sure I can talk about faith, and even profess that confidence easily enough. However when it comes to the nitty-gritty, I’m always surprised when He comes through one way or another.

I only have one annoyance coming out of this meeting today: Little by little my relationships with people at church is making me want to stay in here in town, despite my growing desire to move somewhere else.

Working for God

I know it’s only a coincidence, and I know that nothing is meant of it, but I’m still feeling really down.  A couple of weeks ago, I had a talk with a couple of the pastors of my church. Last week I’m informed that there are going to be knew changes in the procedures that we are using to make the church bulletins. I am the guy who writes the blurbs, prints out the bulletins and folds and puts them together.

Well, I was the guy who wrote the blurbs.

Because of new changes in the process, 90% of the work that I do is now getting delegated to others. All I’m doing now is the printing and the folding.  Important tasks, yes, but it still stings somewhat. I know it doesn’t mean anything, and I know it was not on purpose, but I just feel put off and discarded in a way.  I want to serve God with all my talents and skills and abilities (I’m a writer at heart), but now I’m not able to do even something as humbling as putting together the church bulletin.

It seems to be one of the common laments for the gay Christian: “I want to serve God, but I’m not allowed to.”  And I know that’s not what’s happening here, at least not consciously, but just the timing and how it’s turning out just feels like it.

To add to that, my closest gay friends (a couple that I refer to as Martin and Matthias) are so deeply involved with their church. God blessed Matthias with a heart that beats to the music of Heaven, so naturally, he’s become the associate worship leader at their congregation. Martin is very active too – with his skills and personality geared for making others feel at ease (or however he wants them to fee) he’s a church greeter.  From my (admittedly limited) vantage point online, they’re loved and lauded by the people they worship with and never have to deal with a lonely night since apparently they’re always doing something “activist”y or socially with their church family. (Not that anyone could be lonely when they have a partner anyway…)

I’m honestly jealous. Really jealous. Sure, they’re both extroverted people, and I’m a happy introvert, which can amount for some of the disparity. But given that we stand on opposite sides of the divide, I sometimes feel like nudging God a bit to expedite situations and circumstances that would vindicate my convictions.

Sometimes it feels that I’m lucky if people at my own church even know my name much less who I am. And I refuse to use the “gay” thing as a free ride to get to know people. (Especially given that it’s not even a particularly effective ticket at all.)

To add to the burn, it looks like my small group* completely forgot that I’d mentioned my prayer request was that I “was lonely.”  (My small group does not know about me at this time, though the semi-estranged son of one of the members is apparently gay himself.) Looking over the email I got this morning, it seems that only my new job and moving out of my parents made the cut.

Ah well. You can’t build a trusting, loving community in only a few hours.

* Small groups are how my church expresses the Biblical admonition for the people of God to live in community with each other. They’re called by various names depending on the individual character of the church, the denominational structure and even the local culture.

Some half hearted ponderings…

The biggest point of internal contention that I have in my life right now, which I may have mentioned before, is whether celibacy precludes the intimate companionship of a significant other in addition to ruling out sexual expression, or if having a boyfriend goes against the spirit and the letter of celibacy itself.

One one hand, it sometimes feels like I’m just trying to get as close to “the Line” as I can without falling over, like I’m trying to find a loophole to exploit. And trying to find a real difference between “celibacy” and “chastity” does seem to play right into the foolish arguments about words that Paul warns about in 2 Timothy 2. On the other hand, I’m lonely, dislike being single and from a spiritual, faithful-to-Jesus standpoint, marriage is out of the question.

To clarify, the Scripture says “do not defraud” – take advantage of – a brother or sister in Christ (1 Thess 4.6). It’s very telling that the context is purely about sexually immorality, commonly seen as adultery. If I were to get married to a female, that would be taking advantage of her to get what I want – acceptance, being straight, etc – but that defies the purpose of marriage: a picture of the other-centeredness that Jesus demonstrated towards us. Marriage to another guy would be a similar case of taking advantage of a brother – putting his (and my own) spiritual health on the line for merely happiness and love.

However – and I mean this – I could (and would) give up every, and any, sort of sexual expression if I just had a partner to share life with.

This is interesting. My church is a very savvy with using technology and social media to help proclaim the Gospel.  Earlier today, I got this in my twitter feed:

Single/dating/engaged/married/divorced/widowed – God has something for us ALL this weekend @[redacted]

Not that I’m all that cynical or anything, but given the last few weeks, there’s only one thing that could be taught about that would really and truly be welcoming, applicable and appropriate for the single person, the married person and everyone in-between.

A quick, woeful update

I know this is really short, especially since I’ve been quiet for some time, but during the last few weeks, I really feel my mood slowly getting lost in the junkyard.

I look at my fellow Christians at church and see how everyone is either married or seeing someone, or has a happily supportive family life.  I’m somewhat jealous, but I can’t really dwell on that now. But I suppose I have been since given the sermon series and the unfortunate crush I’ve unwittingly developed toward someone in my church family, I’ve neglected to attend for several weeks now.

I wish I could curl up with someone and just talk it all out. And when it’s time for the evening to come to a close, I just need someone to hold me close, or rub my shoulder, and tell me that they are confident in my ability to succeed in following Christ. I need to know that someone really does believe in me.

Because right now, I don’t have those sorts of resources in myself.

Life isn’t quite so simple, is it?

It’s one of the quirks with how God has shaped my walk with him, but I’m very much a Mainline Protestant inside the body of a Evangelical. That’s not to say that I’m pitting the two against each other in a fight to the death, but I live in a strange place, loving the fluidity and modern feel of a small(ish) independent congregation, but caught up in the majesty and thrill of the high church liturgy and tradition.

I really wish I could talk about “means of grace” and the nature of the Lord’s Table with my friends without getting blank stares. The Lord’s Supper (communion, the Eucharist, etc) has always been my favorite part of meeting together with other Christians. Coming to the Table, feasting on and with Christ in a celebration of the mystical union that I have with my Savior and with my other brothers and sisters always gets me in a odd mood.  As someone who the Lord has chosen other means besides the overtly spiritual, taking Communion is a strongly mystical experience.

That’s probably why church went so “bad” on Sunday. I was so hyped up and feeling so good after taking communion, that almost without thinking, I came out to a friend at church.  Continue reading Life isn’t quite so simple, is it?

Churchly Musings

My home church is in the middle of a study through the book of Canticles – succinctly called “Love. Joy. Sex.” While I can appreciate the teaching, submitting myself to learn from God at the feet of my pastor, series like these always put me in an awkward position. Even if I didn’t possess what people call the “Traditional Christian ethic” on human relationships, there never seems to be any real place for singleness in the Church. There’s plenty of lip service, yeah, but not a lot of fair treatment of how and why  being single is a good and noble position in life.  If you’re single then you just need to be happy and content until God moves you into the real deal of marriage.

Continue reading Churchly Musings