Category Archives: World of B&W

It’s a small world…

Sometimes I wonder…

I work in a tax office of a nationwide tax preparation company. It’s good work, and despite being witness to the worst of human nature (tax season always brings out the greedy, the hateful and the ungrateful – and not just from taxpayers), I do return year after year to serve through educating and properly filing taxes.

It’s a small world though. After they started drifting into the waters of “most-definite heresy,” I had to let go of my associations with Martin and Matthias. I am still deeply in love with them both, but also somewhat obsessive as well. In addition, I was always wary of joining with people who taught against the word of God. Homosexuality is one thing – there are enough emotions and human relationship dynamics mixed into that topic where being blinded or having a different view is almost expected, so I’d give a “free pass.” However, when one starts entertaining notions of universalism, or completely abandoning the Christian sexual ethic to allow for casual sexual activity with anyone, that’s something else entirely.

I was doing the taxes for a young couple today, when I noticed that they lived in the same town that Matthias and Martin currently do. After further inspection, I was rather shocked to see that she lived right next door to them. Needless to say, I hope that my casual professionalism distracted my clients from the growing blush that I could feel creeping up my face.  It’s so frustrating and it breaks my heart – I’m still ridiculously fond of them despite the fact that they’re actively (though mostly out of ignorance, I think) and obstinately teaching others to walk away from Christ (again, out of ignorance given that I think they really do believe everything they tell others).

The rest of that tax interview, and really the rest of my shift, I was mildly flustered as I was strongly reminded how smitten I was (and still am) with them.  But I’m glad that I can hide it well enough.

It’s funny how you can try to go for so long making excuses (legitimate or not) regarding pushing someone from your mind, when Providence has an odd way of bringing them back to mind.

Re: Phelps

I didn’t even realize that Fred Phelps had died a few days ago. Granted, I didn’t expect there to be an outpouring of love and light and glory as the singular source for much fringe annoyance left this world for the Next. But at the same time, I thought I would have felt some more of an immediate disturbance in the Christian circles and the gay circles and the Christian gay circles that I tend to frequent online, when someone as prolific and as hated as Fred Phelps was called to give account of his life before his Creator and Lord.

God have mercy on his soul. Really.

But God have mercy on my soul more importantly.

It’s easy to point at the character of Phelps and the circus parade of malice and hate that he’d perhaps intentionally fathered in Kansas. It’s easy to shine the spotlight of God’s holiness on the flawed public arguments of hate and ignorance that he perpetrated through his many years of “ministry.” It’s easy to rise in outrage at how Phelps’ “church” has become an embarrassment for the rest of us normal Christians seeking to eke out an existence on the spiritual landscape.

But… It’s the logs and specks game. Can I really say that my character is ultimately any better? When God shines his light of love on my heart and life, he most certainly sees the flawed private arguments of misdirected hatred and spiritual ignorance that I keep around as I continue to abuse His grace toward me. It’s difficult, but not impossible, to see how my lack of outrage and emotional fervor has become and embarrassment to God’s Family and God’s Kingdom. Am I merely just trying to eke out a life or am I pursuing my Master with joyful wonder?

Again, I find myself walking nervously past the flaming ones in my life, walking (with little more confidence) past the Flaming Ones at God’s throne and pitching myself on at His feet, repentant and sorry.

And while I know that He’s always so willing to forgive, may His Spirit capture my heart and life in a deeper, more meaningful way this time.

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?

Love is as strong as taxes

For the first few months of the year, I work for a nationally known company that preparer taxes. Even though I life in a rather conservative area of the country one of the things that keeps coming up is how the SCOTUS rulings on same-sex marriage are going to effect how gay individuals will file.

Generally speaking, if a couple were legally married in a state or country that recognizes same-sex marriage, then they’d be required to file under one of the married statuses – Married Filing Jointly or Married Filing Separately. The a state may have different rules depending on the status of SSM in that state. Also, civil unions and domestic partnerships don’t count and individuals in such commitments can’t file under the married status (which is common sense really).

At least regarding federal taxes, this is one of the “breaks” that gay activists have always rallied for, as filing a joint return with one’s spouse is beneficial in an overwhelming number of cases. Though I will say that one can get to a similar tax situation (legally) through a bit of work this is admittedly an easier way of doing do.

Given that I don’t find anything wrong with the “bookkeeping accommodation” that marriage is on a secular level, I’ve suddenly started toying with the idea of a “gay marriage of convenience.” Say, for example, I do find someone and fall in love, even if I couldn’t agree to a “religious marriage” – since theologically speaking, it wouldn’t be  marriage but something else entirely – it would be nice to live with certain tax breaks for choosing to partner up with someone for the long term, romantic or otherwise.

But I still get the feeling that most in the gay community still haven’t grasped the heavy importance, responsibilities and obligations that they possess now that they have made a huge headway in garnering cultural acceptance. Earlier in the week, a female coworker of mine was preparing taxes for a client who happened to be a lesbian. One thing that my coworker communicated to me was before that this client was always deathly afraid of who to come out too, for fear of reprisal and condemnation – we are in the Bible belt after all. They were talking deeply about the new laws since her client was newly engaged to her girlfriend. This year’s tax refund was going to be used for a trip to a state where they could get legally married.

I’m not “out” at work, yet, by the way, but being the youngest male working in an office full of women, I’ve pretty much been forced into the “token gay friend” role anyway, just without the fop and circumstance. But one thing that I did notice that broke my heart and sent my blood boiling was when my coworkers client started flirting with her.

I don’t understand why behavior that is inappropriate for a straight engaged couple is happily practiced and condoned for a gay couple. This is not a gay or straight thing, but a relationship thing. Marriage (and engagement) is about mutual exclusivity and commitment; flirting, serious or not just flies in the face of that.

If it were just a single isolated incident, I guess I’d feel differently. But I keep getting the same from all my friends who are more “progressive” in their understanding of trust. The value of marriage has be denigrated for at least a generation: I do not think opening it up to another subset will do anything to patch it up.

National Coming Out Day 2013

So it seems that today has the distinction of being National Coming Out Day. Perhaps it stems from me being a “bad homosexual” but these sorts of days of celebration or remembrance really don’t mean much to me. Normally the day passes for me without much of a fanfare, but I decided to check out facebook earlier and saw to some admixed dismay that someone I consider an ex was offering his support – if that support had not included a rousing (though implied) cheer to cast off the burdens of “traditional” Christian faith, I’d have been a lot happier to be reminded about today. I really miss Martin and the man of God he once was, especially given that we were wanting to walk with God together.

But I digress.

Yes, that momentous time in one’s life when courage reaches its peak and trust is evaluated as strong enough to weather what could veritably be startling and relationship ending news is a big deal. But what I don’t understand is why the vocal gay community seems to take something that is as close to “sacred” as a non-religious crowd will really ever consider and run with it all over the philosophical and ideological worlds into places it never was supposed to go.

I mean, even when one is running the Christian race without any encumbrances it is still hard work to keep the pace. But then being gay has its own sort of weights that aren’t easily removed. I want to be in a place where I feel safe, but the gay community (that is, the overt, vocal community that seems to be entirely composed of activists, models and free-thinkers), for all it’s posturing, never really was a safe place for a me, a Christian who wanted to live a holy life before God. I’ll never understand why all the various Pride gatherings I’ve had the “pleasure” of witnessing always gave the impression that the orgy would be starting soon. I mean seriously. What does wearing spandex and grinding next to some stranger,  or making out with shameless abandon in public have to do with garnering acceptance or securing equal rights?

If you’re coming out of the closet today, good for you! Be wise and remember to have thick skin. Do all you must, but do it all for the glory of Christ.

Fear

My main spiritual problem right now is that I don’t believe that Jesus is good.

Yes, I know he’s good, and I know that everything He does and allows in our lives is out of His loving care and passion to see His people happy in His holiness.

But for me, somewhere along the line, I lost that sense of God’s being there for me, that his goodness extends even to my circumstances.

As a result I’ve become afraid of almost everything to some regard, unable to take real risks (since that would involve confidence and trust and faith). In addition, I’ve developed green eyes of jealousy, since there’s nothing more delicious to a coveting heart than comparing one situation with another and complaining about the contrast.

Continue reading Fear

Wandering Lambs, of sorts…

I was reminded about how different I am from my other friends the other day.

While he strongly denies that he believes that he has to work for to maintain his salvation, my friend Rob has seriously brought up the concern of future “Falls” along the line of what the devil experienced. Simply put, that sometime in the future Eternal state, what would prevent any creature – glorified human or angel – from staging another rebellion against the Creator and bringing sin into the world if it could happen to the being who became Satan?

I quickly had to remind him of the promise of Revelation 21.4 and other places that point to a complete removal of sin from the immediate created existence.

“But that would mean we’d all be puppets!”

Needless to say, instead of completely disregarding the Arminian viewpoint I can say that Rob has a gross misunderstanding of what ought to be his perspectives on free will, sin and salvation. I’m a person who feels that if someone does not have a grasp on their own worldview, it’s not fair and not proper to try to convince them otherwise.

So what does this have to do with anything?

Well, it got me thinking about how one’s theology develops after they become keenly aware of their struggle with SSA or full blown homosexuality.

Rob dove headfirst into his Pentecostal, Charismatic faith. Speaking in tongues, “second-tier” Christianity, words of faith… all the stuff that makes me uneasy. But his “second deposit” of grace has only seemed to make him graceless or a victim depending on the situation. Regardless, I do see that he loves Jesus and wants to do everything he can for Him. So even with our differences in theological viewpoint, and even though he can be a rather blatant butthead, I do consider him a friend still.

Glen, another friend of mine, became part of the Holiness Movement through the books of Bryan Davis, shortly after “discovering himself.” In case you don’t know, the HM is a distinctly American offshoot of the Christian faith, having its start in the early days of Pentecostalism. From what Glen has told me (read: argued about) the basic idea is that once a person becomes a Christian, they are completely unable to sin, at all. From what I’ve seen, though, it involves adopting a really weak definition of “sin.” I consider the HM to be “spiritual” version of the Prosperity Gospel that’s so popular now, where struggle and pain are sign that one is “doing it wrong,” where there isn’t any room for mistakes, and all one needs is more faith.

But Glen is happy not to be dealing with SSA any longer, though I’ve been praying about other sins that I can see that he cannot.

Another friend married someone who wasn’t a Christian in a half-hearted attempted to get away from feeling gay. Someone else went the completely other direction and had an affair.

And this doesn’t even begin to examine those friends of mine who’ve left the faith entirely or deigned to adopt a view that gives them whatever spirituality they want with the relationships they want. (Maybe I’ll get into that later.)

I’ve found a home in the Reformed camp after years of mulling about the edges without realizing it. Finding comfort in a God who’s in control even when the events of the world and of people would apparently indicate otherwise has been my anchor in the turmoil of life. But lest I turn this into a “see how awesome being Reformed is” post, I humbly admit I  struggle with pride of all sorts (pun not intended). Though clearly present my entire life, the way Calvinist theology tends to manifest as head-knowledge before heart-emotions has only made it clearer to myself how much more I have to work with the Lord about this Pride.

The tunnel that’s before the light

So today I’m most likely going to be having “the talk” with the head pastor of my church. I’m trying to approach that meeting with grace, candor and a intentional lack of presumption of what he’s going to say.

Am I hopeful?

Sometimes I don’t even know what hope is anymore.

When it comes to celibacy, I know that I’ve been lamenting far more than learning. I’ve been fighting off myriad temptations between trying to figure out where things stand between me and a previous relationship (complicated issue there) and compiling a comprehensive list of character traits that I’d appreciate and desire in a partner.

The very fact is both of those things are in a very hazy territory for me to explore and contrary to the Christian’s ethic of submitting to God by love, I’ve been edging away out of fear that I can’t, for lack of a better word, “indulge” (which sounds far more malevolent than I’d like). And every time I look down that corridor of life and potentiality, I can no longer see the light at the end. Back before I fell in love it was easy to make broad sweeping statements about how I didn’t need a significant other. But in showing how much one needs another, loves makes a person weak (or perhaps has just made clear how weak I really am),

But after you’ve felt the warmth of being chosen and loved, nothing seems to measure up. In addition to the scary maybe-lonely future I’m walking into, what’s my other alternative? Forgetting for a moment that I’m personally not sure if celibacy (no-partner) is the same as chastity (no-sex), and forgetting for the briefest of moments that any and all discussion in this direction could warrant a Divine disapproval, just what sort of prospects for companionship am I looking at?

Seriously, where am I going to find another guy who will love Jesus more than me, honor God with his walk and obedience, enjoys the same sort of subculture hobbies that I do, works out at the gym and has a keen mind for the scientific and theological?  Oh yeah, he wouldn’t mind being attached to a pastor, wouldn’t flip out at the mention of “celibacy” and, wonder of wonders, just plain enjoy me.

Whether one comes from the gay angle or the Christian angle I think I’ve pretty narrowed it down to zero.