Thursday, September 29, 2005

24. A Message to All Who Read This Blog

I thought I would write a blog to try and address two of the extremes that are represented in the comments I receive.  

The first extreme is the one that frustrates me the most, probably because it comes from ‘within the family’… it’s the responses from Christians who, it appears, don’t even bother to read any of my blog – or even the little two sentence summary that appears under the title of my blog, as evidenced by the fact that for the most part they get my gender wrong.  They simply see the word “gay” combined with the word “Christian” and they go on the attack.  Their comments read something like: “Have you read Leviticus 18:22?”

Or when they quote verses to me and leave it at that, “1 Corinthians 6:9-10:   ‘Do you not know that the wicked will not inherit the kingdom of God? Do not be deceived: Neither the sexually immoral nor idolaters nor adulterers nor male prostitutes nor homosexual offenders nor thieves nor the greedy nor drunkards nor slanderers nor swindlers will inherit the kingdom of God’ – what do you say to that?”

When I first started doing all this reading I encountered the term “clobber passages”.  This is the term used by gay Christians to refer to the 6 passages in Scripture that people use to ‘clobber’ us.  When I first heard this term I thought it was kind of extreme – I mean, it’s the Bible.  If you are a Christian, then what the Bible says is important to you, so when someone quotes it to you, it should not be seen as ‘clobbering’ you, they are merely quoting your own holy text.  But then I started reading the comments people left and it is like being clobbered.  They don’t bother reading anything I’ve written (at least it appears that way because a lot of what they say in their comments I’ve already talked about).  They just sort of quote and run… it kind of feels like being mugged.  The condescension in their tone, even as they acquiesce on certain points (i.e.: “You say you haven’t had sex with a woman and I have no reason not to believe you”… implying, of course, that they actually don’t believe me) is maddening.  

So, let me say this to you (although, if you are among this group of people, chances are you won’t read this anyway)… I am a Christian… and an evangelical Christian at that.  I believe that the Bible is the inspired Word of God.  I am in no way questioning the authority of Scripture.  I am trying to figure out if the church’s interpretation of Scripture is mistaken in this instance – and that is not a heretical thought.  The church is made up of fallible humans and we have been wrong before (i.e.: slavery).  It is not a stretch to wonder if we are wrong on this issue.  

Let me also say this to you, if you are inclined to merely quote one of these ‘clobber passages’, I will save you some time.  I know them.  I have read them… probably more than you have, and probably more in depth than you have.  I also own a Bible… actually, I own several.  I own a concordance, and I have access to the internet (obviously) so I can always go to BibleGateway.com… so you don’t need to leave long passages of Scripture in my comments.  Unless you have something interesting to add to the discussion, it is really pointless.  If you want to see an example of “something interesting to add” you could read ChristineWJC’s comments regarding the story of Sodom and Gomorrah. While I completely disagreed with her, she actually had something to say beyond “The Bible says this, so there”.  And it didn’t hurt that her comments were not rude or condemning… not to mention the fact that some of what she said I hadn’t thought of before (the story of Lot being referenced in the “end times”), it shed new light on some of the paranoia that many Christians feel in regards to homosexuality.  

The other ‘extreme’ I want to address is probably not an extreme at all.  I think it is just that people who aren’t Christians (or of some other religious persuasion) are unable to understand how important my faith is to me… and while they tend to be more diplomatic than this, the basic gist of their comments is “Why don’t you just believe something else?”

To these people I want to say that my faith is the most important part of who I am.  There is a reason I put the word “Christian” before the word “Gay” in the title of this blog.  I am not a Christian simply because I was raised that way.  I was brought up in the church, that’s true, but there came a time (when I was around 16) when my faith became my own.  I am a Christian because I believe Christianity to be true… whatever side I land on in this debate, the basic tenants of my faith will continue to be true to me.  And because of this, I cannot simply ‘change’ what I believe without being convinced of whatever ‘change’ that would be.  It would be pretend, and really, it would be no different than pretending I was straight… in fact, it would be a lie of a larger magnitude (at least to me).  

Anyway, I wanted to address those things, not because I don’t want comments (I do… I love getting comments, so please don’t stop), but because I keep getting a lot of the same comments… and to be perfectly honest, the group I am most hoping to influence with this blog entry is the first group… I’m just tired of having to explain things like how I don’t see the story of Sodom and Gomorrah as relevant, or that I’m not questioning the authority of Scripture, etc… So, please, do me a favour and read before you comment.  (But, hey… still comment!()

11 Comments:

CK said...

The other ‘extreme’ I want to address is probably not an extreme at all. I think it is just that people who aren’t Christians (or of some other religious persuasion) are unable to understand how important my faith is to me… and while they tend to be more diplomatic than this, the basic gist of their comments is “Why don’t you just believe something else?”

JJ, I hope you didn't think my last post was asking that. I may not have nuanced it well, but I was trying to ask you to consider what it would take for you to believe something else. That's a bit different. I think it actually helps strengthen your belief.

I mean, if you asked me what it would take for me to believe that the moon is made of green cheese (to use an obviously incorrect fact), I would need to, without relinquishing my belief that the moon is NOT made of green cheese, consider what kinds of things I consider as facts, or as justifying my beliefs. So, maybe samples of green cheese taken from the moon, or a new understanding of the laws of physics. I don't really think I'll get either of these things, but it helps me solidify my belief.

So that's where I was coming from. (I'm a philosophy major, so take any of my comments with a grain of abstraction... they're typically not directed at changing a particular belief set, just in challenging thinking in general.)

Peace!

~Dawn said...

I feel your frustration,
I also am an evangelical christan gay woman, but not in the same manner as these bible-beaters...

It's a hard place to find a place to fit in exactly where you stand,atleast I do.

You aren't alone in your questions, I have the same ones.
All I know is that I love God, He loves me for me and that Christ died for me and arose and that I should love others and forgive. I like to keep it all simple. HE does the rest.....

Anonymous said...

Oops...

JJ

I was the one who wrote “You say you haven’t had sex with a woman and I have no reason not to believe you”…

And I DO BELIEVE YOU.. Actually English is not my mother tongue, and at least in my country of origin that is a perfectly safe phrase to use - it doesn't imply disbelief.

Actually, I was ranting against those that do not believe you, and question your own assesment of yourself. Like you (and like many homosexuals) I knew that I liked women far more than men without having had sex with women.

I do admit I had read some, but definitely not all of your posts nor the comments when I wrote it (if I had done so, I would have spared you my poor English, since that same comment about some people not accepting your identity - and your answers to their questions - had covered the same topic.

I'm very sorry to have come accross like that. Even more so since I have referred your blog to several Christian friends. I find your efforts to share with us your own search and struggle very moving, (and rather refreshing, since you do it without acrimony).

I guess it must be very frustrating to take the effort to share a piece of your soul, and to receive answers that seem to show that they are not really answers, but just an effort not to listen to you nor your pain.

Anonymous said...

jj...

I have been reading your blog for a couple weeks now, and I am really moved by how honest and candid you are about your struggles, as well as your commitment to your faith and your refusal to let anyone on either side of this "debate" tell you what to think.

I am a Christian woman who identifies as asexual (meaning I'm not sexually attracted to either men or women). I don't believe homosexuality is a sin, and I know many gay couples with relationships that are so loving, supportive, and committed that I can't imagine how anyone could view them as a detriment to society. It makes me angry sometimes when I hear the things many conservative Christians will so casually and carelessly say about them and their relationships.

I am also amazed at the number of responders who seem to think you need to be aggressively proselytized....as if your "sin" (in their eyes) of even finding women attractive is so much more dire than the sins we're all guilty of on a daily basis! Rather than preaching to you, they should be in admiration of you and ask themselves if they're anywhere near as committed as you obviously are to living their lives as God would want, regardless of cost.

I used to watch the show "Faith Under Fire" with Lee Strobel (I don't think it's on anymore), and on one episode he interviewed a gay Christian man (who he insisted on referring to as a "professing Christian") and asked him: "How do you reconcile your lifestyle with scripture?" His answer was wonderful, something to the effect of: "Wow, Lee, that is such a good question, and I really struggle with that. I mean, for example, I probably spend more money on soy lattes than I do on helping the poor. How do any of us reconcile our lifestyles with scripture?" AMEN.

-Laura

Ash said...

Hiya JJ! I just wanna say that I've just started reading your blog, and it is because of yours as well as Two World Collision that I started my own at oddpsalms.blogspot.com.

I've been struggling with the battle between my sexuality and my faith for a long time now, and I just felt like starting a blog as an outlet. Through blogs like yours, I'm learning more and more what it means to be a Christian and gay at the same time. I hope as time goes by and as we read and write more and most importantly pray more, we'll gain an understanding of what God wants for us and our lives.

JJ said...

To all of you, I want to apologize for the angry tenor of this particular post -- especially to CK and anonymous (who I think is Marshall Sherman) for my misreading the tone of your comments.

This particular post actually came about as a result of one of my pastors (who I had told about this blog) reading through it and telling me how frustrated she was with some of the comments I got (I'm toning it down, actually... I think what she said, while raising her fists, was more like "I wanted to go after some of them"). It just got me thinking, and... well, this post happened.

CK I definetely like exploring other beliefs... actually, that's what helped me solidify my own faith in the first place. When I was around 16 is the first time I started meeting and hanging around with people who weren't Christians (yes, I was pretty isolated before that), and it was in trying to understand what they believed that I came to understand my own beliefs better. Maybe I'm a philosophy major at heart! :)

Ash, Laura and Dawn, thanks for stopping by. And I can't wait to stop by your blog, Ash.

Willie Hewes said...

Laura wrote:

His answer was wonderful, something to the effect of: "Wow, Lee, that is such a good question, and I really struggle with that. I mean, for example, I probably spend more money on soy lattes than I do on helping the poor. How do any of us reconcile our lifestyles with scripture?"

--------------------------

XD Hey, I know that guy! In fact, I had dinner with him last night, and he described exactly this exchange!

His name is Peterson Toscano, and he writes and does talks and theatre pieces about queer issues, and his experience with the ex-gay movement.

I heartily recommend his site to you all, especially his blog.

JJ, I hope that on balance the comments you receive are encouraging, not disheartening. Thank you for telling your story.

marauder said...

Hi jj,

Let me just say that this is a fascinating blog. A good friend of mine who is also Christian and gay links to it from her site, and I finally came through yesterday to start reading it. (Ironically, this was around the same time you took the link from her blog to mine, and started reading it.

Well, now that we've established we're members of each other's fan clubs, let me add that I like the phrase "clobber passage." I never thought of it that way before, but that's pretty much how they get used a lot, isn't it?

What bothers me about this practice is that it's so disingenuous. Whenever Paul lists homosexuality among those behaviors that keep people from the Kingdom of God, it's merely one item on a fairly encompassing laundry list of human behavior. I read in the Wittenburg Door a few months ago the observation that neither Christ nor Paul intended anyone to feel righteous; but Paul, by listing sins, allows us to focus on things we don't do and pretend that because we don't do those, we're somehow more righteous than those who do engage in them. That's not just judgmental, it's pathetic.

I'll be honest. I have no idea honestly how to understand the five or six places in the Bible that talk about homosexuality. The convoluted attempts I've seen some people use to explain them away are second only to the convoluted attempts I've seen some people use to justify them.

What I do know is that I am no less a sinner than a gay or lesbian, and am no more deserving of a seat at Christ's feet. Thankfully, he welcomes us all, no matter what our sexual orientation, political leanings, and no matter what sins we have burdened ourselves with.

I just wish we his followers were half as accommodating. For the times when I have not been, I beg forgiveness.

Daniel Payne said...

I am also a gay evanglical Christian, and getting bombarded with the "clobber passages" is something I am also used to. I have added an article by Dr. Truluck on my blog addressing these passages, and it is refreshing to discover they have nothing to do with homosexuality as most modern homosexuals experience it. Blessings on you in your walk with the Lord, and in trying to figure out how to live your faith as a gay Christian.

Ziggy said...

I feel your frustration. Its irritating when commenters seem not to have even read it.
I feel like there is this little island where the oceeans of the Christians and the LGBT folk meet and it feels kinda lonely there with waves from both sides.
I love that I have a community where people understand my sexuality, but I'm not supported in my faith there. But on the flip side those that support my faith arent too understanding of my sexuality. And both are vital parts of who I am? But with my faith being the most important.
I look forward to reading your blog more. -Ziggy A Christian Asexual.

Anonymous said...

Hi, I've read some portions of your blog. I can understand you. But I would like to know, if you don't mind, that if you do believe that God can heal you? Or that is who you want to be? I read quite a few blogs about how they were 'healed' be Jesus Christ, I mean it is possible that you can change. Anyway, all the best to you and God bless you. :-)