Thirty-Nine. Micro-Evolution.

“…it didn’t just ‘get better’ for them. They made it better. Each and everyone of those people rose at a moment in their lives – one that is very much like this moment in your life, suffocated- and at that moment they chose to tell the truth about themselves instead of staying “safe inside the lie.” They realized that, in fact, the lie wasn’t safe. That it threatened their (and so many others’) existence more profoundly than the truth did. That’s when it started to get better for these folks. When they had the courage to say , ‘this is who I am even if you’ll crucify me for it.” – Cheryl Strayed

What accepting my orientation has meant for me as a fully-integrated person has been so much more than “embracing feelings and pursuing attraction.” Understanding the complexity of one’s identity is in all liklihood a life-long process but I do not believe one can actually enter into that process until they can say “I am what I am” without fear.

I ran from myself for a long time because that kind of denial seemed to make sense within the cross-bearing paradigm Jesus describes in this life of following Him. I thought I could think, pray, date men, and work myself into desiring hetero-normativity. I thought I could think, pray, date men, and work myself into connectivity that models the biblical picture of covenantal love between a man and a woman. When I realized that my experience was suggesting otherwise my objectives changed and I went back to the Bible and wise council. I dismissed reorientation and lived out of white-knuckled obedience  and this kind of ‘thorn-in-the-flesh’ celibacy. I did my best to maintain the notion that because life was absolutely possible without ‘homosexual behavior’ that there was in fact abundant life to be found in singleness. I thought by this measure surely I could delight myself in Christ and Christ alone and grow out of the incessant heartache and emotional paralysis that is born of believing that this one part of my personality was so beyond the scope of redemption that it needed to be suppressed in totality. I believed that in my “healing” looking like “holiness” I would live above the part of being made in the Image of God (the soul-craving for companionship and intimate camaraderie) that biblically served as His most fundamental metaphor  for His love and communion with me and the rest of humanity. When I realized my experiences were suggesting otherwise my objectives changed and I went back to the Bible and to wise council.

As my understanding of both the Scriptures and human sexuality expanded so did my need to suspend my Conservative Fundamentalism on sexual ethics. It wasn’t that I became stimulated by “liberation” or “revolution” so much as I felt pain-stakingly sure that the love of which was natural to me was no more in need of being restored than if my affections were for men. It occurred to me that perhaps being reborn and yet persisting in attraction to women was about so much more than my own journey. This was about reformation. This was about providing a voice within the Church and within public discourse about the horrifying discrimination that well-intentioned Believer’s are fostering in the name of what they perceive to be God’s Kingdom.

You see, what I learned in Bible college about the Early Church within the New Testament text was that the whole Body was responsible for bringing whatever they had- whoever they were – to mutually encourage one another and BUILD UP, not tear down the Church. That being said, the Church should then in theory express the whole range of God’s created order of what it means to have a sexuality which (arguably so) includes gay, lesbian, bisexual, transgender, and straight people. This in a lot of ways is why Evangelicals formally fought so hard to suggest that homosexuality was entirely a matter of environmental factors…and in so could be cognitively behaviorally changed. It works for safe thinking because it doesn’t challenge the categories we have for what is a Christian and what isn’t a Christian – it doesn’t force us to dig deeper into the author’s intentions for our holy book – If we are told in church that “hermeneutically its just really sloppy and irresponsible to believe that Paul was talking about anything besides gay and lesbian orientation in these passages” then we don’t have to put the hours into personal study, meditation, prayer, research, bullets of sweat or sleepless nights of being baffled by the idea that God would craft in us something special and mysterious just for it to never be understood, or explored, or to find Him in the midst of.

But this ceased to be an option for me. I had to be more honest, I had to be more sincere, I had to really search, and I had to reach. Not for the sake of defending what I was becoming convinced of…but because I needed a way to describe what I was becoming convinced of.

It has come to my attention that the general populous of the faith communities I have long been a part of disagree with these developments of belief and life. Because of this my non-gay affirming friends have pulled me aside to encourage me of how much I’ve been deceived and reminded me how accessible (and necessary) repentance is. Because of this then my gay-affirming friends have suggested that I distance myself from such “insidious oppression” and the various sociological factors (like the institutional church and aforementioned well-intentioned Christians) that have incited such “confusion and pain…”

And I get that, but the fact is that love, life, and faith are messy… People are far better and far worse than the groups or ideologies that they choose to identify themselves with…and the life that I believe Jesus called me into at the ripe ‘ole age of 14 was one that insisted “I must be who I am even if they crucify me for it” on either side of the debate.

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Thirty-Eight. The Five-Second Rule.

Last week our household was paid a visit…but what I mean by that is we were solicited by the people at good ole’ American made Kirby vacuums. If you have never witnessed one of their demonstrations I highly advise it…or against it because you will be both mystified and filled with horror. Through their machine not only does one become visually exposed to all the dust, grime, and filth that lays ahold of one’s carpeted and hardwood floors…but then one is also informed of all of the various illness and disease that can be born of such waste left untreated.

That being said, it is with great pride that I still will eat any dropped food item off the floor.

I have no aversion…. nor even the slightest delay when it comes to picking up the pieces of stir-fry that fell to the ground and enjoying them (perhaps even more so) because of that journey to the grimiest crevices of this rainbow palace that they just partook of. I know probably too good and well where those tomatoes and bell peppers have been, what they have possible contracted, and furthermore how socially unacceptable my pending consumption is… but the fact is that A) I am an impoverished, post-graduate who works for an ever-developing non-profit organization who will eat any and all things given to me and B) To throw away said food items is in stark contrast to my over-arching values of stewardship, Creation care, gratitude, and doing my best to use all of what I take from this earth. To forsake what I know to be true in respect to both my present reality and my on-going understanding of identity to pursue something that could possibly be true in respect to a vacuum salesman and a few Google searches seems a bit counter-intuitive. A bit counter-intuitive and harmful…Because I didn’t state is explicitly before, I hate throwing away food. I REALLY hate throwing away food. It literally feels inhumane when I throw away food.

Obviously I am not just talking about eating food off of the floor here.

I am talking about the human experience, I am talking about my own personal struggle with what it means to try and make sense of this whole spiritual quest to connect with God, to pursue justice, to love mercy, and to walk humbly with Him. I am talking about transitioning to gay-affirming theology and I am talking about pursuing dating. I can read every 400 page defense of the ‘traditional perspective’ against gay relationships that is known to Intervarsity Press, Abingdon Press, Moody Publishers, Harper One Collins, and the list goes on but at the end of the day I just don’t experience the conviction to believe that the ‘gay issue’ is something that the Bible has prescriptively laid out clear cut answers for. Is there good biblical reason to believe that God designed sexual intimacy to be shared between heterosexual couples exclusively? Sure. But just about as much good biblical reason there is to believe that God designed sexual intimacy to be so much more about ‘why’ people were to engage in it versus ‘who’ should. What 7 years of research, conversation, prayer, and meditation affected upon me was a new found appreciation for vulnerability in the faith, for ambiguity, and a need to suspend absolutism when it comes to my understanding of Christian ethics. And how did this come to be? It came to be because even with robust, philosophical, biological, and theological arguments about the need for me to reject my orientation and to hold out for the possibility for ‘change’ or resign myself to involuntary celibacy…the fact was A) I was still gay. Gay as gay could be even having surrendered all of my heart and the whole of my identity upon the person and gospel of Jesus…the gay was just not going to go away and B) To ‘throw away’ my sexuality and to relegate what is different about me and different about so many others to some lesser form of humanity was in stark-contrast to my over-arching values of Image Bearing, of salvation, of adoption, of justice, of equality, of freedom, of inclusion, of acceptance, and ultimately of love. To forsake what I know to be true in respect to both my present reality and my on-going understanding of identity to pursue something that could possibly be true in respect to one (although, yes strong) interpretation of the ancient Scriptures and the limitation of the human mind in reference to theology seemed a bit counter-intuitive. A bit counter-intuitive and harmful…Because I didn’t state is explicitly before, I hate absolutism. I really hate absolutism. It literally feels inhumane for me to buy into the idea that someone can authoritatively determine what is right and what is wrong with no room for the nuances, no room for the particular shades and hues hold those two ends of the spectrum in tension with one another.

Long story short,

I didn’t buy the 3000 dollar vacuum, I eat food off the floor,  and I have a girlfriend.

“Many of us view the world as an ugly place with a few beautiful redeeming characteristics. Unfortunately, that’s also how we view humans. But what I learned at Liberty was that this idea is the exact opposite of reality: The world and the people in it are really wonderful with just a smidge of ugliness about them. I think the really vocal anti-gay Christians display this smidge, but I also think the really vocal anti-Christian gays display it as well. Not tolerating someone for his narrow-mindedness is perhaps the epitome of intolerance. I learned from my time at Liberty that this bigotry happens on both sides: not only were there some Christians who wanted to stone some gays, but there were even some gays who wanted to stone a few Christians.”

– Brandon Ambrosino

Read because I promise conservative Evangelicalism isn’t always the monster the media paints it as and because this is honest, clever & oh so incredibly refreshing.  http://www.theatlantic.com/sexes/archive/2013/04/being-gay-at-jerry-falwells-university/274578/