Wednesday, August 31, 2005

13. Blog Day, 2005!

I didn’t know there was such a thing as Blog Day until I read about it on Two World Collision, where Eric had some very nice things to say about me and my blog that made me blush.  I want to highly recommend his blog too… I think it’s really interesting that he and I are starting from basically the same place, and yet we seem to be leaning in different directions.  He’s also just an amazing writer, so his blog is good to read anyway.  Plus, I am so grateful to have found someone who is on the same journey as me; especially someone as intelligent and kind as Eric (at least I think he’s intelligent and kind… it could all be an illusion! *smile*).  

From what I read on Eric’s blog, I think the rules of Blog Day are that I’m supposed to recommend blogs I like. Unfortunately, I’m really new to the blogging world, and there are only two blogs I read on a regular basis… Eric’s, which I have already mentioned, and Bad Christian (both of which I list in my links).  Bad Christian is also an awesome site, with some really thought provoking writing.  

One thing I wanted to write about, that has nothing to do with Blog Day, is just a little clarification on my last entry.   I just wanted to say that I do not necessarily support all of the things that gay rights activists are lobbying for – on most of the issues I am undecided (except for the marriage issue, which I have already mentioned).  For example, I don’t know how I feel about getting “My Two Mommies” into elementary schools.  What I was trying to say was that the “religious right” needs to understand that the motives of gay rights activists are not villainous… and if they continue to attempt to paint gay people as villains they will severely hurt any chance they might have of sharing the love of Christ with them.  

One of my best friends is a gay woman who has been with her girlfriend for over 5 years now. We’ve been friends since high school and she is not a Christian, but as I mentioned before, I have always been very open about my faith.  As the religious right has become louder and more vitriolic, I have felt her pulling away, and it saddens me.  I have tried to stop this, but I don’t know if I can.  The problem, you see, is that all she hears in the diatribes of our religious leaders is hate.  She does not hear any reasoned arguments, or moral objections… just hate.  How are we, as Christians, supposed to share the love and grace of Christ with a group of people who have every reason to assume we hate them?  

I have been including myself in the group of Christians, because I am one, but I have felt that hate too.  And I think I may have seen even worse examples of Christian ignorance and hatred, because I am on the inside – and I am sort of undercover.  I have heard Christians say, in the wake of a gay bashing, that they wished they had been there so they could have joined in.  I have heard Christians say that we should “ship all the faggots to a deserted island somewhere so they can all infect each other with AIDS and die.”  And I have heard other Christians laugh politely when they hear such things, because they don’t think it’s that all that wrong to think them.  

Anyway, that was my point in my last blog.  Sorry to have turned it into a lecture.  Happy Blog Day, 2005 everyone!    

Tuesday, August 30, 2005

12. Venting, Part II

I picked up the book What’s Wrong with Same-Sex Marriage tonight, and now I’m angry.  I actually don’t know if I’m even going to bother finishing it.  It is so much worse than that chapter in Sex and the Supremacy of Christ that I wrote about before.  The first 2 chapters are about this “Gay Agenda” bullshit that I keep hearing about…the “Homosexual Menace” that is threatening the very fabric of society.  Ugh.  I’ve already sworn once, I’m going to try not to do it again.

I grew up inside this mentality… my mom has been a massive force behind getting gay-friendly curriculums out of schools and campaigning against gay marriage.  She has organized letter-writing campaigns, marches, and anything else she can think of for years.  And before you ask – yes, she knows I’m gay… she prefaces any conversation we have about this with the phrase “I know you have had your struggles, but…”  The reason I mention this is because I want it to be clear that I understand the fear behind all this crap that the “Religious Right” is pumping out… there was a time when I even believed it… probably more vehemently than most people.  I think it was probably an attempt to push what I knew about myself further and further down where no one, including myself, could see it.

I just wish that these people would stop their ranting and raving just for a moment and just try to see things from another perspective… try to understand a few things.

1.  Most gay people, Christian or non, have tried to be straight at one point or another in their lives.  The desire to be accepted by society comes after a long struggle to accept themselves.  The insistence that gay people can change “through the power of Christ” has led many gay Christians to abandon the church, or even to commit suicide, because Christ, for some reason, wouldn’t change them.  I obviously cannot speak for every gay person, but I know that most people that come out of groups like Exodus are not “successful” in changing their orientation… and to be perfectly honest, even some of those who claim to have succeeded I question, simply based on some of the things I’ve heard them say.  The first “ex-gay” man I ever met could not stop pointing out hot guys he saw as we walked down the street, saying things like “Oh man, if I was still gay I’d be all over that guy.”  Once I would have let slip by, but it happened over and over again.  I will point out again that I do believe in an omnipotent God, and so if He chooses, I believe He can make a gay person straight… but for some reason, He doesn’t seem to do this very often.

2.  The supporters of same-sex marriage are not trying to destroy marriage.  They do not believe that homosexuality is immoral, so in their minds trying to redefine marriage to include same-sex couples is no different than when marriage had to be redefined to allow people of different races to marry, or to disallow people of certain ages to marry.   “Redefinitions” of marriage do not, by default, undermine the institution of marriage.  I realize that some have a moral objection to homosexuality… but they need to realize that not everyone has this objection, so their perspective will be different.  This might at least open the way for some civil dialogue… something that has been severely lacking during this debate.

3.  Quoting extremists from the gay-rights movement is no different than when the “liberal media” focuses on extreme and ridiculous comments from Christian media figures – like Pat Robertson calling for the murder of another human being.  Christians everywhere are annoyed by things like this, and yet they do the same thing – like when some obscure, radical, gay theorist says something ridiculous, like that marriage is archaic and outdated, they rush to put it in print.  And I will add this – more insane and ignorant things come out of the mouths of prominent Christians than from gay figures.  For example, Sponge Bob Square Pants?  Not gay!  He is a cartoon sponge that lives in a pineapple at the bottom of the sea!  James Dobson is well respected in the Christian community, but when he goes around saying that cartoon sponges are a part of a ‘homosexual conspiracy’, I am embarrassed to carry the same label as him.

4.  Sentences like “Nobody is entitled to respect for behavior of which we don’t approve” are blatantly ridiculous.  I do not approve of the fact that certain Muslim women are forced (or choose) to wear those long black robes, with black veils over their faces, no matter what the temperature (and it can get pretty hot in Ottawa); but they, and their husbands and their clergy are entitled to my respect.  I don’t approve of this behavior at all, and yet I respect their right to engage in it, and, incidentally, I respect them for holding to their convictions, especially in the face of the discrimination that many Muslims today are victims of.

5.  The push to have gay people represented in school curriculums is not some covert attempt to “recruit” children into a “deviant lifestyle”.  It is merely an attempt to achieve representation.  I think a lot of white people might not understand this, but growing up as a black girl in western Canada, I never once saw myself in any of the things we read at school.  As an adult who works with children a lot, I can’t help but smile whenever I’m reading a book to some children that has people of different races represented… I just wish they’d been around when I was a kid.   I realize that no six year old child is going to hear a story in which a gay person is represented and think “Hey, that’s me!”, but then I doubt that there are any minorities in many of the schools in rural Manitoba… but I still think there should be minorities in their books so that when they encounter one they don’t react with shock and hate.  I realize that sounds extreme, but I was often the only black person – or one of only two or three – at school, or at church… and I got all kinds of reactions, ranging from mild curiosity to unreasoned hate.

6.  Inciting panic with statements like “…their agenda is to adopt all of the unwanted children of America to bring them up with their lifestyle with their way of thinking” do nothing but fuel the hate that is behind much of the violence that gay people are often the victims of.  Most Christians would not condone gay-bashings (at least I hope not) and yet they happily make statements like this that have no foundation in fact and do nothing but make people feel threatened and justified in lashing out at the first gay person they see.

7.  This last one is not that big a deal, I suppose, but it annoyed me.  In What’s Wrong with Same-Sex Marriage they quoted some gay activists as having said that they should “…portray gays as victims of circumstances and oppression, not as aggressive challengers.  In any campaign to win over the public, gays must be portrayed as victims in need of protection so that straights will not be inclined to refuse to adopt the role of protector…we must forego the temptation to strut our gay pride publicly to such an extent that we will undermine our victim image.”  

This does sound pretty calculated and, well… devious, But I have been to Christian seminars, and seen books on “Friendship evangelism” that sound just as bad, if not worse… seminars on “how to become friends with non-Christians in order to convert them”… how manipulative is that?  They teach how to become a trusted confidant, and how to introduce Christ into any conversation.  I am a big believer in being authentic… all of my non-Christian friends know that I’m a Christian, and how important my faith is to me… and if they ask, I am more than willing to talk about it.  But I am not merely friends with them “in order to convert them”; I don’t have an ulterior motive.  I like them.  I’d like them to come to Christ, but I’ll be friends with them regardless.  This is just one example, and I’m sure if I thought for a little while I could think of other things that I have heard in the church that would sound awful to anyone outside of the church.  This is just a classic case of speck versus log.

Okay, I’m done my rant now… it’s out of my system.  I think I can sleep.                              

Sunday, August 28, 2005

11. Pride Day at Church

This morning I went to a different church than normal.  I had called the “Gayline” to ask if they knew of any gay-friendly churches in the city, and they could only think of one – an Anglican Church right downtown.  It was a church I had heard of, one that apparently doesn’t believe in the divinity of Christ.  I had no intention of going to a church like that, but I called them anyway, because I had heard that they ran a group called “Dignity” for GLBT Christians.  Turns out that they don’t, but the lady on the phone told me that this Sunday was Pride Day (which came as a shock to me, Pride used to be in early July, they just changed it this year) and so the Sunday morning service would be a special service for the GLBT community.  After quite a bit of going back and forth in my head, I decided to go.  And now I’m telling you about it.

First of all, let me say that I am not an Anglican.  I appreciate liturgy, but I must admit I find it hard to follow.  I should have sat much further back than I did because I spent a significant part of the service not having any idea what was going on, or what was being said… or even if it was being said in English (occasionally, they would speak French – Ottawa is a bilingual city).  For the most part I just sort of cheated and copied the guy beside me, but half the time he seemed to have things memorized… I went to an Anglican church when I lived in Ireland, and actually got used to it then, but it all appears to have left me.

Secondly, I would say that I saw no evidence that they do not believe in the divinity of Christ.  Granted, He did not come up much during the sermon – but I’ll explain that later.  Christ was all over the rest of the service, but I suppose it is possible that it was merely part of the liturgy.

The sermon, as I alluded to, was not much of a sermon, but this was due to the fact that it was Pride Day.  The sermon was given by a lesbian member of the church, and it was basically just about the struggles that GLBT (by the way, that stands for Gay, Lesbian, Bisexual, and Trans-People) people go through, and how the Anglican Church has responded, or not responded, to them.  I’d like to go on another Sunday and hear how a regular sermon there sounds.

So… how did it feel to be in a gay-friendly church?  Well… odd, at first.  It was Pride Day, and there were people with rainbow flags all over the place, and rainbow shirts and hats dotted the congregation.  That was the first thing I noticed.  I was greeted by 2 lesbians, and as I walked down the aisle I couldn’t help but notice all the gay people – obvious gay people! – sitting in Church.  I had known that there would be gay people there, but I guess I hadn’t been able to imagine it.  It shocked me.  The next thing I noticed was that the priest and… uh… associate priests (?) were wearing white robes with rainbow coloured…uh…vestments (??  I have no idea what the name of these things are… the sort of ribbon type thing that hangs over their shoulders? Like I said, I’m not Anglican).  This seemed a bit over the top to me, but… well, it was Pride Day.  I’ve been at churches on Canada Day and seen Canadian flags all over the place, and the pastor up at the pulpit wearing a maple leaf tie, so it’s not that odd.  Anyway, I sat there, listening to the overture, and admiring the architecture, and then the priest gave the greeting.  “I’d like to extend a special welcome to all the gay, lesbian, bisexual and trans-gendered people who have joined us today and are a part of God’s wonderfully diverse creation.”

I almost started crying.  I hadn’t known how much hearing gay people – and by extension, myself – welcomed from the pulpit of a church would move me.   And to hear us referred to as a part of God’s creation – instead of as a deviation from, or a threat to… oh man.  I’m getting kind of choked up now just thinking about it.  Like I said, the sermon wasn’t much… it was nothing I hadn’t heard before (although, not in church), but I did keep welling up with tears during it, because I kept remembering that greeting.

And then the weird thing happened.  The service was almost over, and we were all standing up, after having read something from the liturgy book in French.  I was trying to sneak peeks at the guy next to me, trying to figure out what page we were going to next, and also trying to translate what we had just read in my head, and in my fiddling I dropped my liturgy book under the pew.  I was trying to figure out how I was going to get it when all of a sudden everyone sat down, so I sat with them, and bent over and grabbed my book.  The priest was still talking and I was half listening when he said something about visitors standing up… so, in obedience, I stood up… and immediately realized that he had said that visitors should stand up if they wanted to introduce themselves… but I was already standing up and he was already beside me with a microphone.  I was not the only one standing, but the other priest was getting the other people.  There was no way to sit down again without making an even bigger spectacle of myself.    The priest asked me what my name was, and put the microphone in front of my face… so I said my name… and the microphone was still there.  So… I blurted out the first thing that came into my head “It’s been a real blessing to be in a welcoming congregation, thank you…”  As these words were coming out of my mouth, I realized that I was basically coming out to an entire congregation, which felt weird to say the least.  I sat down, and started to cry, which was kind of embarrassing… but a bit of a relief because I had been holding back throughout the service.  And then the service ended, and because I had stood up I guess people felt free to come and talk to me, so I was inundated with greetings, and welcomes.  And if they hadn’t figured out I was gay from what I said, there was no way to get around the question of how I found their church without mentioning that I had called the Gayline, so I was definitely out.  And nobody cared.  That was incredible.

After the service I decided that for the first time ever, I was going to go and watch the Pride Parade for myself, not just watch it from the safety and anonymity of my home.  It was nice to be surrounded by gay people, even though I didn’t know any of them.  The parade itself was nice, if somewhat muted… and I have to say that watching it made me mad.  Not at the parade, but at what I had seen of the parades in the past when watching the summary of them on the news, or seeing the pictures from the parades in Christian newspapers.  I had expected to see drag queens and buttless chaps and flamboyant half-naked men making out everywhere, because that’s what I’d been led to believe would be there.  Most of the people were gay, that’s true, but they were incredibly normal.  There  were a few drag queens, and one pair of buttless chaps (on an unfortunately old man… it was unpleasant), but mostly it was normal looking people marching with their drama groups, their reading groups, their health organizations, and even their ferret rescue organizations (I’m not kidding… I have no idea what the Ferret Rescue Society of Ottawa and Area was doing marching in the Gay Pride parade, but they were there).  It was families with their children (both straight families and same-sex families), it was churches (2 churches actually, I recognized some people from the church I had been to this morning), it was youth organizations, and radio stations.  I did get handed a condom, but it was very discreetly wrapped, and I noticed that they were very specific with who they handed them out to… no children, or even teens were given any.  I couldn’t get over how incredibly normal, and even dull the parade was… not the spectacle of debauchery I had sort of believed it would be.

I didn’t go to any of the festivities afterwards, so maybe that’s where the debauchery happens, who knows.  I have been to the big circuit party before (or what I tend to call the Big Gay Party) that they hold every Pride – when one of my best friends from Ireland came to visit me – he’s gay, and so I made the excuse that I was doing it to entertain him.  But even that party was not the crazy scene of men having anonymous sex in back rooms that is depicted in shows like Queer as Folk.   It was just dancing.

I went back to my own church this evening, and it was a bit of a relief to be back in a service where I knew what was going on, I could understand everything that was being said and I knew the songs… but I did feel a bit sad.  I kept thinking that for the most part, most people at my church would not think that I, as a gay woman, am a part of “God’s wonderfully diverse creation”… they probably believe that I am a deviation from it, I am outside of God’s natural order, I don’t fit in with what God designed.  So I was already sad by the time we began to close the service with a few songs.  One of the songs we sang was “Breathe”.  The words are as follows:

This is the air I breathe
This is the air I breathe
Your holy presence, living in me

This is my daily bread
This is my daily bread
Your very word, spoken to me

And I, I’m desperate for You
And I, I’m lost without You

I began to cry again.  I want God so desperately, I need to know that He’s there, that He’s here with me now… and I have no idea.  I can’t feel His presence at all, and I know that feelings aren’t everything; we can’t be guided by them.  But I would like something, some sort of assurance that He’s still with me.  My prayers bounce back to me as if the skies were made of glass, and I don’t know how to change that.  I remember the parable that Jesus told of the persistent widow (Luke 18), and so I persist.  But I do wonder how long I can endure like this.

I realize that that was a bit of a non-sequitor, but that’s what my day has been…              

Saturday, August 27, 2005

10. The Children are Free

I just finished reading The Children are Free: Reexamining the Biblical Evidence on Same-Sex Relationships… like 10 minutes ago. So you are going to get my fresh, unvarnished thoughts. I will probably have to read the book again to digest it properly… I read it today in about 2 hours. It’s a nice, easy read – not like Women, Slaves and Homosexuals which is on my list and terrifies me… it’s just so big, and academic. But I’ll get to it. Another point on the plus side for The Children are Free is that it didn’t cause me to have an emotional breakdown, which I appreciate.

The first thing I will note is that this book had a more thorough analysis and study of the Greek origins of words than I have encountered thus far in my reading, which I liked. I find that sort of thing interesting, just in general… you know, where do words and phrases come from, how have their meanings evolved over time, what did they mean in their original context, what is the linguistic root… all that stuff is interesting to me. So, aside from my obvious need and desire to understand the meanings of the passages in Scripture about homosexuality, I was intrigued.

Most of it was stuff I had heard before – discussion of the words arsenokoitai and malakoi, which have been traditionally interpreted as homosexuals, homosexual offenders, or effeminate. This book had a more in depth analysis than I had read, but the conclusions were basically the same as I’d heard before… both of those Greek words were so rare even in the time the Bible was written, that it is difficult to interpret them properly, and if you look at them carefully, and in context, they seem more likely to apply to the practice of pederasty (grown men with young boys) or male prostitution than to homosexuals in general.

The one I found most interesting was the analysis of the word “eunuch” in Scripture. They look at Scripture and to other literature of the time period and come to the conclusion that ‘eunuch’ as used in Scripture referred to a class of people that would have been assumed to be homosexual. I’m not going to explain the whole thing, because… well, they wrote a perfectly fine section on it, and I would end up quoting the entire thing, but the conclusion that they come to is that to refer to yourself as a eunuch, or to be called a eunuch would be akin to saying that you are a male hair dresser from San Francisco. Not all of them are gay… but, well… people would make that assumption because most of them are.

Using this interpretation, it makes Jesus’ statement about eunuchs take on a whole new meaning. Jesus refers to three classification of eunuchs – those who have chosen to be eunuchs (those who choose celibacy), those who are made eunuchs (those who have been castrated… or had their genitals in some other way mutilated), and those who were born eunuchs. According to the authors of this book, when Jesus referred to those who were born eunuchs, he was referring to people who were born gay. Again, they use contemporary passages from Jewish literature to back this up. I’m not sure what to think of that, but it’s interesting.

Now, the one thing I would say about that is that if it is true, I am not sure about the conclusion they come to… Jesus makes this statement about eunuchs after talking about marriage, and how people are not to get divorced and remarried – how that is adultery. The disciples, I guess had commitment issues, because their response to this is that maybe no one should get married. In response to this, Jesus makes this statement about eunuchs: “Jesus replied, "Not everyone can accept this word, but only those to whom it has been given. For some are eunuchs because they were born that way; others were made that way by men; and others have renounced marriage because of the kingdom of heaven. The one who can accept this should accept it." Matthew 19:11-12.

My inclination would be to interpret that passage to mean that eunuchs (whether man made or born that way) are probably not to marry. The authors of this book interpret the passage as referring to Jesus’ previous reference to a marriage being between a man and a woman. I’ll have to read that section again, and probably do some personal study. It’s an interesting idea.

The other thing this book talks about a lot is how gays are portrayed in Scripture… which was kind of a ‘wow’ moment for me. A few years ago it occurred to me that gay people are in no way a new phenomenon, so there must have been gay people in Israel in the time of the Bible. This is the first time I actually considered the possibility that David and Jonathan might have been in love, something I have since come to believe is probably the case. Their relationship just reads like a love story to me. So, the authors of this book talk about David and Jonathan, as well as Ruth and Naomi. Now, I have heard the argument that Ruth and Naomi were a couple before, but to be perfectly honest, I don’t really see it… not as much as I see it in the story of David and Jonathan. I will say that I have heard the book of Ruth described by conservative Christians as a romantic love story between Ruth and Boaz, but that I don’t see at all. I think there is more evidence for romantic love between Ruth and Naomi than between Ruth and Boaz… but well, it’s just not as convincing to me.

Where I disagree with the authors is that I do not see evidence of a sexual relationship between either David and Jonathan or Ruth and Naomi – although they do make a plausible argument for a sexual relationship between David and Jonathan. It’s just not that convincing to me.

The one that blew me away was the story of the Roman centurion and his servant. Again, using the original Greek, they make a very convincing argument that the ‘servant’ in question was actually the Roman centurion’s male lover, or spouse… and that Jesus would have known this from the language the centurion used to describe his servant. They cite Jesus’ immediate willingness to heal the servant, without condemning the relationship as evidence that Jesus Himself endorses committed, loving, monogamous relationships between people of the same gender. It’s probably the best argument I’ve heard so far. I will probably have to do my own study on that part too… it’s really interesting.

There’s lots of other stuff in there, and like I said, I will probably have to read it again, because I whipped through it so fast, but it is really interesting.

I will say that I still ‘feel’ that celibacy (however miserable that makes me) is the answer… but I don’t think that means anything. I know that there are Christians who would rejoice in that, saying that ‘feeling’ was the Spirit’s witness, telling me the way to go… but these same Christians would tell a gay person who ‘felt’ that gay relationships were okay that they can’t live by their feelings, that feelings can be deceiving… so, I continue my search for truth and hope.

Thursday, August 25, 2005

9. Pat Robertson Wants Me Dead

Last night I dreamt that Pat Robertson was trying to kill me.

That is in no way relevant to anything I was planning to write about, it’s just funny.

Anyway… tomorrow afternoon, I’m getting together with one of my best friends. She was my roommate for 2 years while I was in university… while I was in the deepest, darkest part of my depression. The reason I mention that is because I’m thinking about telling her that I’m gay tomorrow. She has been away in Europe for 2 years, and I had decided that I was never going to tell her, but now that she’s back it just makes me sad.

The problem, and the reason I had decided not to tell her, is that our friendship when we lived together was a little…a little odd. I was severely depressed, and she was my most constant and affectionate friend. And I clung to her like a life preserver. I’ve often wondered if I would have made it through those years if she hadn’t been around.

The day she told me she was getting married I threatened to kill myself… sort of. I told her I no longer saw the point of living, and then went out and bought a bunch of sleeping pills. But the pills were not to kill myself, they were actually just to put me to sleep so I would stop thinking about killing myself – at night is when my thoughts can get their darkest.

I wasn’t in love with her or anything, I was way too wrapped up in my own garbage to have those kind of feelings for anyone … and oddly enough, during the second year we lived together I had a crush on a guy – a crush I manufactured after my therapist asked me if I thought I was gay… but… well, it was still real, after a fashion. Anyway, it wasn’t her engagement that threw me, it was the statement that came right after that announcement – that she would be moving out at the end of the year. I couldn’t see how I would be able to make it without her around telling me that I was worth loving.

The unfortunate thing is that I know what it looks like… and that makes it harder to tell her than it has ever been to tell anyone. But the idea of never telling her no longer feels right.

We’ll see… I have until tomorrow afternoon to decide.

My friend had to cancel her visit, so this decision is now postponed until…well, until further notice. Oh, and I just noticed that my blog is now too big to fit on one page… cool! In case you are not blog savvy, you can click on any of the post titles to the right (under the heading “Previous Posts”) to see any that don’t show up on this page.

Wednesday, August 24, 2005

8. Why

I’ve decided, in light of my little breakdown yesterday, to take a bit of a break from my reading. Probably only for a day or so though, because The Children are Free is sitting here, begging me to read it, and I don’t think I can hold off for very long.

I was thinking a bit about why I am doing this… why I am doing all of this investigation. I suppose it seems obvious to many of you who are reading this, but it’s kind of a new thing for me. I’ve been out (to myself at least) since I was 25, so it has taken me 5 years to actually try and figure this thing out. That’s kind of crazy.

I think the reason it took so long is fear. I kind of assumed that the answer would be celibacy, and I didn’t want to find that out for sure. I did look up gay Christian sites before, but I never looked beyond their homepages, for fear of being tempted… and I made a point of avoiding any gay functions, Christian or non… It sounds so ridiculous to me now. How I expected to live my life in such isolation from the only people with any real hope of understanding what I’m going through, I have no idea.

Well, that’s not exactly true… I have a small idea. I had this ‘hope’ that maybe I would die soon, before I had to actually figure it out. Before I had to face the prospect that God might deny me something I wanted (and sometimes felt I needed) so desperately.

Anyway, after a while it occurred to me that I’m probably not going to die anytime soon, so I have to face this. And as I faced it, I couldn’t hide from the fact that the prospect of a life of celibacy (I always feel the need to point out that celibacy means much more than a lack of sex to me) makes me miserable…and assuming that God loves me, He must want more for me than a life of misery, so maybe I am wrong about this celibacy thing. Or maybe there is hope in it somewhere that I cannot see.

So anyway, why am I doing this? I guess I’m just looking for hope.

Tuesday, August 23, 2005

7. Breakdown

So, today I read John Stott’s Same-Sex Partnerships? A Christian Perspective… and had a breakdown. I haven’t broken down sobbing like that in months. Oh, I’ve cried, but not that really undignified sobbing with the gasping and all the fluids leaking uncontrollably from my face. What made me sob? Well, I’ll get to that. First I’d like to examine his arguments.

He starts off by saying that homosexuals are human, which frightened me… I appreciate what he was trying to do, to make sure that Christians don’t demonize us, but the need for that is frightening. Anyway, he proceeds to outline the prooftexts that people use to say that homosexuality is a sin, and he includes Sodom and Gomorrah in that list, which just frustrates me. I grew up in the church, and loved all those Old Testament stories, and I never once thought of the tale of Sodom and Gomorrah as an anti-gay story – and believe me, I was hyper aware of anything to do with homosexuality that came up in church or in the Bible. The story of Sodom and Gomorrah was always a story about violence to me, and when I got older I realized it was a story about rape.

Anyway, he sets up (sort of) the arguments supporting same-sex relationships and then proceeds to knock them down. I say “sort of” because he seems to present only the weakest portions of the arguments for same-sex marriage – for example, he says that proponents of same-sex marriage will say that the sin for which Sodom and Gomorrah was destroyed was the sin of inhospitality. That sounds so weak, and it’s just not true… at least not from what I’ve read… most proponents of same-sex marriage will say the sin was sexual in nature…but it was rape, not homosexuality – and by anyone’s standards, rape is a sin. I found this section of the book rather weak. The next section, however, was another story.

The next section was about how we must look at the marriage that God ordained in the Bible (not necessarily the marriages that are portrayed in the Bible) as the standard. This argument, I must admit, has some merit to me – it reminds me of how bank tellers (I’m told) are not shown counterfeit currency, but are made to study the authentic bills, so that when the fake bills come across their path they will see them for what they are. The problem(s) I have with this is that we do not see too many “authentic” marriages in Scripture… actually; there are none that come to mind right now. Also, the verses that he uses to describe this God-ordained marriage are verses I’ve always read as descriptions, or background, not as prescriptive passages in which every word must be taken into consideration. (i.e.: Genesis 2:24 “For this reason a man shall leave his father and mother and be united to his wife…”). The last problem I have with this argument is that it seems too… misty, or something. There doesn’t seem to be much substance to it.

And then there was the part that ticked me off… the part about gay people being more promiscuous than straight people – like we are some how incapable of monogamy. This is a stereotype that just makes me mad. All the gay people I know are in long-term, committed relationships – serial monogamists, if you will… much like most non-married, non-Christian, straight people. As for those gay people who are promiscuous, well it is usually only for a time, before they settle down…again, like most single, non-Christian, straight people. I’m not denying that those anonymous sexual encounters don’t happen, but I can tell you that I’ve heard way more stories about anonymous sex from my straight friends than from my gay ones... I actually can’t think of a single story like that from any of the gay people I know or have met in the past. This theory about gay people being more promiscuous is something I think Christians like to think so that they can justify focusing on us instead of the sexual immorality that exists among straight people. Somehow gay people are ‘more immoral’ than those kids who strip for beads at Mardi Gras, or the ones who video tape them and put it on the internet, or, well,…I could go on…

So, what made me break down? As I’ve said before, while I’m not sure what I believe right now, I think I’ll probably end up on the side of celibacy, which, as I’ve already said, does not make me happy. Well, on page 81, he says “At the heart of the homosexual condition is a deep loneliness, the natural human hunger for mutual love, a search for identity, and a longing for completeness.” With the exception of the identity issue (I’m not sure why people are always thinking that gay people have identity issues), I see all of that in my future if I choose a life of celibacy…so what does Stott offer as hope? Well…basically, he offers the pity of straight people. I suppose he would use the word ‘compassion’, but it’s pity… or at least it read like that to me. He mentions how we will need a confidant, pastors, therapists, a therapy group, etc… all of this just to maintain a life that will still be lonely. This, to me, is not hope at all. And, of course, he mentions the hope of heaven, which is wonderful… but, well… shouldn’t there be some hope here? I mean, shouldn’t my life be more than just days passing by as I wait impatiently to die? I’m already feeling that. I don’t want to live another 40 years in this same emotional place. I don’t want a life that is ‘less than’ that of my straight friends. I don’t want a life where they take turns having me over for Christmas and Thanksgiving. I don’t want a life where when I die; I just melt away, as if I had never existed.

Anyway, that’s what made me break down.

I have been praying such desperate prayers lately, asking God to help me with this, show me what His will is, what He wants me to do…even to just let me know He’s there. I feel like I’m flailing through this alone, and it sucks. It’s like God’s gone deaf, or He’s ignoring me…or (and I can’t even believe I’m saying this) He isn’t there after all. I guess I’m having a bit of a crisis of faith.

6. Final Thoughts on Stranger at the Gate

So I finished Stranger at the Gate… and I have to say it left me wanting. I think part of the reason for that is that I hadn’t realized that it was merely a biography. I had thought it would also include some sort of Biblical theology or arguments to support the position that gay marriage was okay.

As a biography, I suppose, it is perfectly fine. The pastor who I borrowed it from told me she’d thought it was good in that it raised her level of compassion for what gay people, especially gay Christians go through…so I suppose it’s good in that regard too. I guess you can tell I wasn’t all that impressed. My problem, you see, is that I think of marriage as sacred – my issue has never been if it would be okay for me to have sex with a woman, my issue has been whether or not it would be okay for me to marry a woman (the sex, of course, would be included). And while I sympathized with what Mel White was going through, when he began sleeping with men behind his wife’s back I got very frustrated with him. And then, after he and his wife separated, he meets a man and simply moves in with him… without getting married. Now I know that marriage between same sex couples was not (and still isn’t) legal in America at the time, but gay people have been having ‘commitment ceremonies’ for eons – I just ordered a book about gay marriages in the middle ages. And if it turns out that God blesses gay unions, then in my mind it doesn’t matter whether or not the state does… I believe God blessed the unions between slaves when they ‘jumped the broom’, even though it was illegal. I believe if God wanted to, He could bless a same sex union without the help of the state. Of course, I think they should be blessed by the state, just like marriages between people who are divorced (something expressly forbidden in Scripture) are blessed by the state. All of that to say that I was frustrated with Mel for never marrying his partner.

I also was a little put off by his constant reference to his ‘sexual needs’…,well, I get put off by anyone referring to their sexual ‘needs’… it is so often used as an excuse for irresponsible behavior. Sexual ‘desires’ I can understand, I have those… I don’t think I have sexual ‘needs’.

Of course, I say all this as someone who has already said that the idea of lifelong celibacy makes me want to die, so maybe I’m wrong. But I don’t think it’s the idea of not ever having sex that makes me want to die…it’s the idea that I’ll never have any of the rest of the stuff that comes with marriage – the family, the fact that there is someone for whom I am a priority, cuddling up with someone I love while we watch some old movie, making plans about our life… it hurts to think that I won’t have any of that.

Anyway, the point is that I found Stranger at the Gate frustrating. I got a book in the mail today that I’m quite excited about though – The Children are Free: Reexamining the Biblical Evidence on Same Sex Relationships. I think I’ll read a book from the opposing view first though, just to keep things balanced in my head.

Monday, August 22, 2005

5. Driving

I was driving around doing some errands today when I found myself behind a big, red van. The back of the van was plastered with Christian paraphernalia – a Jesus fish (complete with “Jesus” written in the centre, in case people were not sure what the fish represented), a dove, etc… and I had the thought, “The person driving that van would hate me.”

I admit, I’m in a bit of a mood today, so things are a bit darker and hitting me harder than normal, but I have thought that sort of thing before. When I see someone wearing a Christian t-shirt, or carrying a large and obvious Bible around the mall, I make the assumption that these people would reject me outright.

Normally this thought passes through my mind without my noticing it, but I guess writing this blog is making me more aware of my thoughts. I heard myself think that this person would hate me and it suddenly occurred to me how awful that was – not that I thought it, but that I am probably right, that these people who want everyone to be aware of their faith are more likely to hate gay people.

Seeing “Jesus Saves” on the back of someone’s shirt should make me think that the person wearing it is a safe person, that they would love unconditionally, like the Jesus they are advertising would, and yet I have the exact opposite reaction. I grew up in the church and I have seen some of the wonderful and compassionate things that people like that have done, and I’m scared of them. How much more scared must someone be who hasn’t seen any of the good things that Christians are capable of…who have only seen Pat Robertson saying that gay people are responsible for September 11th, or Jerry Falwell say that gay people are a threat to children…Christians must terrify them, they often terrify me.

Saturday, August 20, 2005

4. Venting

I’m in the middle of  Stranger at the Gate, and I’ve got about 5 other books sitting by my bed… not to mention the ones that are coming in the mail… but for now, I have nothing really to say about my investigation into what God wants my life to be.  So I just thought I’d vent for a bit.

One of the assumptions that straight people make (both Christian and non) is that being gay is all about sex – that’s all we think about, that’s all we want… our homosexual desires are exclusively sexual.  I only realized this sometime in the last year.  I’m not sure what made me notice it, but it suddenly made a lot of things that straight people had said to me make sense.

The first time I ever told anyone I was gay was when I was 11.  Actually, I used the word ‘homosexual’ because it was the only word I knew.  All of my friends from church were getting baptized and my mom was angry at me that I hadn’t signed up to be baptized too.  One night, after she had been questioning me about it for about an hour, I finally broke down crying and told her – wrote it down on a piece of paper – “I can’t get baptized because I’m a homosexual”.

Needless to say, my mom was not pleased with this confession, and sent me for prayer with a couple from our church – Mr. and Mrs. H.  I don’t really remember anything Mrs. H. said to me, but I definitely remember everything that Mr. H. said.

He made the assumption that the abuse I had suffered at the hands of girls (which I guess my mom told him about) was the reason I was gay…so he made the assumption that I had enjoyed it.  I remember him saying “It was perfectly natural for you to like what they did to you, that’s the way God made your body…”  This scared me more than I think I can express, because what those girls had done to me had been disgusting, nauseating and not just a little painful, and for this man to tell me I should have enjoyed it was absolutely terrifying.  I told him that I hadn’t enjoyed it at all, but he wouldn’t believe me.  He actually didn’t believe most of what I told him, I ended up making things up so that he would stop asking me the same questions over and over again.  One of the things I made up for him was a lie I retold so many times, and to so many different people (when I would ask for prayer for ‘healing from homosexuality’) that up until quite recently I completely forgot that I had made it up – He kept trying to get me to ‘confess and renounce my moment of choice’ when I chose to be gay, so I manufactured one.

But as bad as that stuff was, it wasn’t as bad as the rest of it.  He was working under the assumption that my homosexual desires were sexual desires.  Now, I know some people remember having sexual desires from very young, so I think I might have just been a late bloomer in that regard – I didn’t really have any sexual desires until I was 16 or so.  So, here I was, an 11 year old girl, and this man kept asking me to confess my ‘sexual fantasies’.  When I tried to tell him I didn’t have any, I just had crushes on girls in my class – I just wanted to hold their hands, and other fairly innocent things – he wouldn’t believe me.  He said that if I didn’t confess my sexual desires I could never be healed of them… I remember him starting to describe a possible sexual fantasy I might have had, and I got so freaked out that, again, I made something up.  I said something about looking at women’s bodies on the street and thinking about them when I went to bed…I remember it so vividly, because it was so embarrassing and gross to me – I was still at that stage when all of that stuff was ‘icky’.  I think it was a couple of days after that that I told everyone I was better so they would leave me alone.

It was only a couple of months ago that it occurred to me that Mr. H. might not have been the disgusting pervert I’d assumed he was… in fact, he probably wasn’t.  He was just working under a ludicrous assumption that presented only one course of action to him. He couldn’t conceive of homosexuality existing outside of sexual desire.

Being gay is no more about sex than being straight is.  Of course I want sex, there is no way I can deny that, but it’s not in the front of my mind all the time…or even most of the time.

Of course, a lot of what is portrayed in gay culture doesn’t help – have you ever seen an episode of Queer as Folk?  Most gay people’s lives are not like that.  At least most gay people I know anyway…

Anyway, that’s my little vent.  I’m sure I’ll have something more productive to say when I’ve finished Stranger at the Gate.    

Friday, August 19, 2005

3. Sex, and the Supremacy of Christ

I found a book called "Sex and the Supremacy of Christ" on the bookshelf of one of my pastors. It looked new, so I knew that there would be a chapter in it on homosexuality -- they all have one now. Because I am trying to figure this whole gay Christian thing out I decided I would find some time to read it... not the entire book, just that one chapter. I knew (both intuitively and from reading the blurbs on the back of the book) that the book would be about how sex is such a wonderful gift from God, how it shows His love for us... and, well...if I'm going to end up being celibate I don't need to read that stuff... how God gave this wonderful gift to everyone – well, to everyone else anyway.

Another assumption I made was that the chapter would say that gays were called to celibacy... or maybe it would say that we should probably seek 'healing'... I have read enough of these chapters to know basically what to expect. But I have never read anything like this chapter before. The thinking in this chapter is the sort of thing that gets gay people (celibate or not) kicked out of churches and families!

I should point out that when the pastor who owned this book saw that I was reading it, she told me that it was brand new, and she hasn't read it yet. I'm pretty sure she wouldn't be as... well, hateful as this author is.

Okay, so what was this chapter saying? I’m going to start at the beginning, and work my way through…it gets worse as it goes on.

1. "The fact that homosexual marriage is even an issue for public debate demonstrates that we are a civilization in crisis..." (p. 107)

This quote is on the first page of the chapter… talk about some panic driven language -- the fact that people are even discussing something you disagree with means we are in "crisis"? Are you kidding me? I don't even know what I believe on the issue of gay marriage for Christians (...although I do know that I believe it should be legal), but just because people are talking about it does not mean that there is a crisis. I know a lot of people make comparisons between the gay rights movement and the civil rights movement, and to be perfectly honest, I find that often this is a flawed comparison... but I'm going use it anyway. Do you remember when people were calling integration a "crisis"?

And it's homosexual marriage that indicates this 'crisis'? Not the astronomical divorce rate among heterosexual marriages? 50% -- for Christians and non-Christians alike! And at least gay people want to get married, to have their unions legitimized... many straight people don't even bother with that anymore...why isn't that in indication that we are a 'civilization in crisis'?

And to stretch the point further, how come the fact that there are still millions of people in North America living below the poverty line doesn't mean that we are a 'civilization in crisis'? How come the fact that as one of the wealthiest nations in the world we give less than 1% of our GNP to charity doesn't indicate that we are a civilization in crisis? How come the fact that we generate more and more waste and are destroying the planet God gave us doesn't indicate that we are a 'civilization in crisis'? Ugh...okay... moving on...

2: "Even for men and women given the gift of celibacy, and for those who by other circumstances are unmarried, marriage remains the defining institution for understanding masculinity and femininity and the arena of human sexuality" (p. 112)

I don't even know what to make of this statement. He goes on for a bit before this talking about how God ordained marriage, and made a helpmate for Adam...and this is the conclusion he comes to. I just don't know what to say to that. It doesn't make me mad like the other things he says, it just doesn't make sense. I am not female because of marriage, I'm female because I'm female...I learned to understand some of what it means to be a woman by observing women, that's true... but they were not merely "wives" to me, they were my aunts, cousins, grandmothers, friends... And on top of that, most of my sense of 'femaleness' doesn't come from outside of me, it's internal. I admit that my understanding of masculinity comes pretty much exclusively from outside, but that's just because I'm not a man. This passage made so little sense to me, that I would welcome anyone reading this to try and explain it to me actually... so, even if you completely disagree with me, I beg you to comment. I'm just confused!

3. In a section where he talks about how marriage is an essential part of every society, he says "Even where there have been aberrations such as polygamy or other forms of wrongly construed marriage, these have been noteworthy precisely because they are aberrations, and because they have been culturally transient" (p 113)

He didn't even try to address the massive elephant in the room here - that a lot of 'aberrations' of marriage show up in the Bible! ...polygamy, forcing women to marry men who raped them, having men sleep with their brother's widows in order to father children... The reason this jumped out at me is because of a discussion I had recently, where the person I was talking with was talking about how marriage was ordained by God, (which I totally believe) and was ordained to be between men and women, and is meant to represent the Church's relationship with Christ. Afterwards, as I mulled over our discussion I started thinking about how marriage was represented in the Bible, and how -- for the most part -- I can only hope that these marriages don't represent our relationship with Christ... because the marriages I see in the Bible are not marriages that I would want to be in (gay or straight).

4. "A genuinely Christian response to the challenge of homosexual marriage would go back to marriage itself and the gift of gender..." (p 114)

The only thing I have to say about this is that it is a common misconception (among both Christians and non-Christians) that gay people have gender identity issues. For the most part, we don't -- even those gay guys I know who call each other "girlfriend" don't have identity issues. I know that I'm a woman; they know that they are men.

5. "Some have gone so far as to argue that the sin of Sodom and Gomorrah was not homosexuality but inhospitality” (p. 116)

Is he kidding with this?? He is saying that the sin that Sodom and Gomorrah was destroyed for is homosexuality? He is equating gang rape with homosexuality?

He says that Jude 7 proves that Sodom and Gomorrah were destroyed for the sin of homosexuality… I actually looked it up. It says: “In a similar way, Sodom and Gomorrah and the surrounding towns gave themselves up to sexual immorality and perversion. They serve as an example of those who suffer the punishment of eternal fire.”

I went to and looked up 19 different translations of that verse, and none of them say anything about homosexuality... most of them translate "perversion" as "desiring other flesh" which is incredibly ambiguous.

When I got home I looked up “sexual immorality” and “perversion” in my concordance. “Sexual immorality” in the original Greek means exactly what it means in English… it just means sexual immorality, which encompasses a lot of things. Perversion is a different story. It’s a compilation of 4 words… none of which mean homosexuality… the basic gist of the words is simply perversion so… can you think of that many things that are more sexually immoral or perverse than gang rape? Whether it’s gay or straight, rape is immoral and perverse.

6. "We must understand that female homosexuality is often directly traceable to the misbehavior of men... a woman who resorts to lesbianism..." (p 121)

Now, this is just insane. “Traceable to the misbehavior of men”? Resorting to lesbianism? Right, of course, all lesbians were abused by men (None of my gay female friends were abused at all...I'm the only one, and I was abused by girls!)...that's an inane assumption. He doesn't even try to find the 'root' of male homosexuality, saying that male sexuality 'can be corrupted in so many different ways' ...this is probably just because he's a guy, and therefore recognizes that there is complexity in male sexuality...And he probably thinks he’s got women ‘figured out’. Oy.

7. "We must declare God's verdict that every single homosexual act is sin, and that homosexual desire is in itself sinful." (p 122)

Oh man, this is the thinking that made me not want to get baptized when I was 11, because I thought that God would strike me dead or something if I tried to participate in a sacrament when I couldn't stop 'sinning' by having crushes on girls. Isn't sin, by definition, an action? Not a desire? I can't even believe he says this. It's ridiculous.

8. "We must urge all sinners to repent and abandon their sin, but convincing homosexuals to think of themselves as heterosexuals is not the same thing as salvation. We must show homosexuals their need for salvation and transformation." (p 125)

This is the big one...he makes 'homosexuality' and 'salvation' mutually exclusive, you can't be both... and because he has already labeled homosexual desire sinful, then even if gay person is celibate, he's saying that they aren't saved. I cannot even believe this. This chapter just got worse and worse.

9. "Becoming heterosexual is not salvation, but the miracle of regeneration and sanctification will produce, by God's grace, the right affections in your heart" (p. 125).

Actually, this is the big one. This is the one that had me fantasizing for years about jumping in front of buses, or driving into oncoming traffic... if it wasn't for my fear of hell, I might have actually done it. This is the one that made me think that God had abandoned me...because I prayed and prayed, and asked others to pray for me, and went to Christian counseling (not to an ex-gay program or anything, but to Christians at the church I was going to then) and I was never made straight... so therefore, it was obvious to me that God must not love me.

I find this to be such dangerous theology. I read an article about an ex-gay program (a program that tries to help gay people become straight) called Living Waters that was sent to me by one of my pastors...the article was obviously in support of the program, it was practically an advertisement...but at the end it gave these statistics -- 11% of men going through their program experience complete change, 37% of the women experience complete change... According to the author of this book then, only those 11 and 37% of people are recipients of God's grace...the rest are lost... and these people, who are going into Living Waters obviously desire change, and believe God will do it... so they must feel completely abandoned. This is the reason I won't go into an ex-gay program... I don't want to come out the other end either back in the closet (where I wanted to kill myself) or end up believing that either God abandoned me or there is no God. Not a good situation, no matter what.

Phew… well, those are my thoughts on this book. Definitely not a helpful book at all! Maybe the other chapters are good… but I'm not picking that book up again.    

Tuesday, August 16, 2005

2. Thoughts on Stranger at the Gate

I started reading "Stranger at the Gate: to be Gay and Christian in America" last night. I think the title is pretty self-explanatory as to what the book is about. It's basically his life story -- I've gotten as far as the end of high school.

So, here are my thoughts so far. I haven't gotten to any arguments he has to base his opinion that gay relationships are okay... So far he basically seems to be saying that it's okay because the desire exists -- which is a weak argument at best. I have all kinds of desires that aren't okay. I've been feeling frustrated and angry lately and really desiring to hit someone...actually, it's more like a desire to beat someone about the face until they are a bloody mess... it's a pretty violent and graphic fantasy I've been having lately...and just because I have this desire does not mean it's okay.

I do agree with one thing he keeps saying though, and I don't know if I'll be able to express this adequately, but I'll try. I agree with his premise that it is a shame... to the point of almost being a crime that gay people -- especially Christian gay people -- aren't able to express or experience things that are perfectly natural without experiencing so much guilt that it cripples them.

Now, I know some (most) Christians will disagree about whether being gay is 'perfectly natural', and I'm going to leave that alone for now because that's not what I'm talking about. And I know that some (most) Christians will disagree that having any gay encounters would be 'perfectly natural'... and I'm going to leave that alone because that's not what I'm talking about either.

I'm talking about the crushes, or the girls I pass on the street who are really pretty, or that girl who asked me what time it was and I got so nervous I dropped everything I was holding... I'm talking about the feelings.

I read a chapter on homosexuality in another book the other day called "Sexual Sanity", and it referred to homosexuality as an obsession. The pastor I mentioned before referred to it (only once that I can recall) as a sexual addiction... and these are the people who are trying to be compassionate... they listen to gay people describe their desires, and that's how they label them -- obsessive, or addictive -- it's ridiculous. Part of the problem, I think is that when you put words to some things, they end up sounding so important, or significant, when really they're not that big a deal.

For example, the other day I went to observe a friend teaching and adult ESL class. I sat at the back, looking through some teaching materials she had given me as all the students came in behind me. As each of them would open the door to the room, I would reflexively turn around to look at them... and then she walked in... this incredibly beautiful woman, just stunning. We made eye contact and she smiled, and my heart rate jumped a bit as I watched her take her seat. I forced myself to go back to looking at my papers. After a few minutes, I'd had enough of reading grammar exercises, so I looked up and looked around, and when I got to her, she was looking at me. I don't know if she had been already looking at me, or if we just happened to look at the same time, but man, I was immediately nervous. She smiled again, and nodded, and I felt this electricity go through arms were tingling, and some rather massive butterflies were flying around in my stomach. I had a flashing thought about what it might be like to kiss her. And then she laughed -- someone near her must have said something really funny because it was a belly laugh, she threw her head back and opened her mouth wide and laughed -- it was exquisite. I forced myself to look away, and then class began, and that was it.

So, I've put words to something that happened the other day...and it sounds like it's something huge, but it wasn't. It was really nothing, actually. It took way longer for me to write out what happened than it took for it to actually happen. If I were to explain this to a Christian with a certain philosophy of what being gay is about they would focus on the involuntary aspect of it... my physical response, how I couldn't help thinking about kissing her, how I had to force myself to look away... but those things are normal. If you were to take me out of that story and put a man in my place the story would change for them, it would be normal for a man to react that way to a beautiful woman, almost sweet and romantic. And, honestly, not that big a deal... But because it's me -- a woman, it's a huge thing, even though I've already acknowledged that I'm gay, which means I'm attracted to women. If I exhibit any symptoms of being attracted to women, they are defined as obsessive, even though being attracted to actual, literal women is the natural result of... well, being attracted to women. It's not like I go out seeking women to be attracted to, or that when I find one I can't help but obsess about her, it just happens.

And here's the thing that bothers me most about this... the guilt and the shame. I have felt so guilty about finding women attractive, and the way I can't help but react to beautiful women, that it has totally affected my relationship with God. I feel too dirty to pray, or read the Bible... and yet, I haven't done anything wrong. I've never come close to doing anything with a woman, and for the most part, it's not like my thoughts wander into the sexual realm every time I find myself attracted to a woman -- the furthest my thoughts will usually go in that direction is thinking about what it might be like to kiss them.

This actually occurred to me before I read any of "Stranger at the Gate", it occurred to me that day after my friend's ESL class, when I started to feel guilty about 'lusting' after this beautiful woman. It just suddenly occurred to me that I wasn't lusting. I never once looked at her body and thought anything lewd... I never once thought anything sexual about her at all, unless you count the fleeting thought I had about kissing her as sexual, and even if you do, it was only a thought for a second, I didn't dwell on it, so I don't think it counts. I went home and thought about all the meetings I'd had with my pastor about this, and how I had used the word 'lust' to describe my feelings for women so often, and how silly this was, because except for a few isolated incidents, it's not lust, it's attraction -- and that's normal. I'm gay, I'm going to be attracted to girls...if I wasn't, then I wouldn't be gay, would I? But I end up using the world 'lust' because I feel such guilt and shame about it, that it has to be sinful, right? I go to try and confess my sins, but there's nothing to confess of, and I can't repent in all honesty because I know it will happen again because it's not anything I do, it's something I feel, and I can't stop myself from feeling it. So my confession and repentance feel false, which makes any sort of intimacy with God seem like something I'm not worthy of.

So... those are my thoughts based on the first section of Mel White's book. I don't know that I'm going to agree with him, but he has obviously made me think.

Sunday, August 14, 2005

1. First Post

So, I decided to start a blog because I felt the need to express some thoughts I have not been able to express to anyone.

I suppose I have to start by telling a bit about myself...which means that this post will likely be quite long.

I'm a 30 year old Christian woman, and I've been a Christian my entire life. The kicker is, of course, that I've also been gay my entire life...although I suppose that is up for debate...most Christians I know do not believe that being gay is an inborn thing, but then most Christians I know aren't gay either, so what do they know?

I should probably be a bit more specific...I'm not a lesbian, at least I don't think I am. I would say I'm bisexual - but I should also say that I like women much more than I like men. The only reason that the bisexual aspect is relevant I think is because I think it's what made it take so long for me to realize/admit that I was gay. I would have a crush on a woman and be freaked out that I was evil and was going to hell, and then that crush would inevitably fade. Then I would have a crush on a guy and be so relieved - God must have cured me, yay! Then that crush would fade, and I'd go through it again and again. It wasn't until I was 25 that it suddenly dawned on me that there was a name for that. Such a relief, I must say. Like coming out of a fog.

When I first came out (just to myself and a few choice friends) the relief was so great that I thought that that was all I would ever need...just to have admitted the truth. Hiding it had been such a strain, and had thrown me into a huge depression, and now I was free of that. What more could I possibly want?

Well, more...just more. I came out when I was living in Europe and when I came home I told one of the pastors at my church (of course, it took about a year to work up the courage to tell her) and have been meeting with her fairly regularly about this ever since. Her belief is that gay Christians are called to celibacy...and I have a sneaking suspicion that she believes that being gay is reversible.

Now, before I go on, I suppose I should clarify that I believe in an omnipotent God, therefore I believe that if He chose, He could make me straight. But I also know that I prayed for years for God to take this from me, fully believing that He would, and He didn't...and I know I'm not the only one.

What I'm about to write is the essence of why I decided to make this blog... I guess I have believed that gay Christians are called to celibacy too...I'm not sure what I believe right now, I go back and forth...but I'm inclined to think I'll land on the side of celibacy...and the thing is, that sucks more than I think I'll be able to express. But I'm going to try

By celibacy I mean way more than no sex -- although that does suck, there is no denying that fact. By celibacy, I mean no marriage, no family, no one reciprocating my love...

I don't think I'm going to go into all of it, because this post is already too long, but there are 2 things about what a life of celibacy means to me that I haven't told anyone, and I just needed to get out.

1. I feel pointless, like a rock that was thrown in the ocean and didn't splash at all. I will not have children, no husband, no wife...this is a morbid thought, I know...but if I die, I don't think it will make much of a difference in the lives of people around me (except my mother, which is kind of pathetic). Honestly, the biggest difference it would make in their lives is that some of them might have trouble finding a babysitter. Oh, they would miss me and be sad, but that's it.

I know the purpose of a family is not to provide purpose for life, but it does do that I think.

2. Oy, this is the big one. I've talked about this one a little bit with people, but not that much because I would feel like I was begging for their attention or whatever. I think I resist that because I used to do that all the time...tell people really depressing things in order to have them pay attention to me...I wasn't lying, but my motives were not pure. Anyway, I'm stalling. Looking out over my life and thinking that I'll be celibate (not married, no family, etc...) makes me want to die. Not kill myself, just die. I can't wait to die. Well, that's not true, I can wait...but what makes me cry at night is the idea that I'll have to live a long and pointless life just waiting to die.

This affects me in so many ways, but the biggest one is my health. I know I'm unhealthy, I'm overweight, I don't exercise, I don't eat right...and I don't care. I don't see the point in trying to be healthy...the idea of losing weight so I can attract a mate is pointless, so then there's just healthy to live a long, happy life...well, I don't expect my life to be happy, so I don't want it to be long.

Anyway, I think I'll end this post here, because I've said the main things I wanted to say, and this post is crazy long.