What are you doing sitting at home in front of your computer reading my blog? It’s September 30th, y’all! Don’t you know what that means? Serenity is in theatres!!! So, stop reading, get thee to a theatre and go see Serenity!
What does this have to do with being Christian, Gay and Confused? Not a damn thing.
Are you still reading? Stop. Go now! *smile*
I’m serious. What are you still doing here?
Friday, September 30, 2005
What are you doing sitting at home in front of your computer reading my blog? It’s September 30th, y’all! Don’t you know what that means? Serenity is in theatres!!! So, stop reading, get thee to a theatre and go see Serenity!
Posted by JJ at 3:57 PM
Thursday, September 29, 2005
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!()
Posted by JJ at 7:01 PM
Sunday, September 25, 2005
I went to a wedding yesterday. I love weddings, and this one was beautiful. The bride and groom are very much in love – they were both practically luminescent. And of course, there was dancing. I love dancing. We (me and a group of friends) danced until well after midnight. So much fun. I so rarely get the opportunity to dance that I drink it in when it comes… well, except for that one wedding I went to where all the music was country. I left that one early. Anyway, the point is that the wedding was wonderful. My friend is very happy and I wish them both the best.
I say all of that to say I had a wonderful time, and the vast majority of my thoughts and feelings while I was there were positive, but the purpose of this blog is to provide and outlet for my thoughts about being Christian, Gay and Confused, and of course, being at a wedding will bring some of those thoughts to the foreground.
I am enough of a girly-girl that I have been thinking about and planning my own wedding since I was fairly young. I remember drawing pictures of the type of wedding dress I wanted in junior high (my tastes have changed a little since then, thank goodness). I know what song I would want for my first dance, what my colours would be, where I would get my pictures taken, etc… And every wedding I’ve been to, I’ve catalogued the things I really liked so that I can use them when my own day comes. The frustrating thing is that I can’t curtail this tendency despite the fact that I know that marriage is probably not an option for me. I sat there last night, thinking things like “Oooh, that’s a neat idea”, or “Wow, I’ve never heard of that tradition”, and trying to think how I would incorporate them into my own ideal wedding celebration; and every time I would have to give myself a sort of mental slap in the face and remind myself that I probably won’t have a wedding, so I should stop building the idea up in my head.
And just so you don’t get worried (or excited), I still haven’t come to a conclusion regarding the whole celibacy vs. gay-relationship thing. It’s just that even if I do eventually marry a woman, I won’t be able to have the traditional wedding that I have envisioned. I may find a church and a minister that would be willing to hold the ceremony, but I can’t think of a single member of my family that would come… and none of my Christian friends would come either. So there would be no one giving speeches about what I was like as a child, or telling fun stories about silly things we did in university, etc… When I think about a wedding without all of these people that I love, it feels kind of hollow… even just thinking about it, my chest has gotten all tight and I’m swallowing back tears. Wow… I’m never going to have that day when all the people that I love, and who love me, gather to celebrate me and my happiness. That is a harsh thought. I’d better move on before I start to cry.
The other thing that happened was that I saw a guy I haven’t seen in years – he was the staff advisor for the Christian fellowship I was a part of in university. The friend I have mentioned twice before pointed out his new wife to me – I hadn’t realized he’d gotten divorced. She went on to tell me how hard his first marriage had been, listing various problems (none of which were adultery), and how happy she was that he was happy now. And he was happy, I could see it on his face (and in the fact that he and his wife didn’t leave the dance floor for hours! It was pretty impressive cause… well, they’re kind of old!). I should tell you that I am happy for him too; I am really in no position to begrudge anyone any joy that they have. But it frustrated me, how much my friend was celebrating in his happiness, despite the fact that he is in a relationship that the Bible clearly says is wrong. I couldn’t help but wonder if she would celebrate my happiness if I was in a relationship with a woman that made me happy. Or would she be worried about the state of my soul? I know I have mentioned this many times before, but it frustrates me to no end. How come it’s okay when heterosexuals break or bend the rules when it comes to sex and relationships, but when gay people question the rules (or that there even is a rule) we are in obvious, willful rebellion (or whatever catchphrase is in vogue among Christians these days)? Again, I think that this is because marriages between divorced people look the same as first time marriages… so people can just pretend that they don’t notice or something. I mean, really, there can be no other explanation.
Anyway, the wedding was really wonderful; I had a great time and got to see some people I hadn’t seen in ages. Weddings are always good for that. I have another one to go to in three weeks, and then I probably won’t have any for ages. I think all of my friends from that particular group are married now (or will be in three weeks, anyway). Oy. I’m old.
Posted by JJ at 10:07 PM
Friday, September 23, 2005
As part of my internet routine, I always check out a few other blogs – one of which is Eric’s Two World Collision. Yesterday’s entry, Scrubbing off Freckles was about that whole “love the sinner, hate the sin” thing that so many Christians say about homosexuality. He explains that this phrase is pretty much hogwash because people are unable to differentiate between the sin and the person sinning. I was going to leave a comment that would have basically boiled down to ‘lighten up, dude…’, because I know many Christians who believe that homosexual behavior is wrong, and even some who believe that simply being gay is wrong, and they have only ever expressed their love for me… so despite the triteness of the phrase ‘love the sinner, hate the sin’, I think it is still a ideal to live up to.
But then I encountered this article about how the Vatican is probably going to bar gay people from entering their seminaries – regardless of whether or not they are celibate. (If anyone leaves comment about how gay priests are more likely to abuse than straight ones I swear I will rip you a new one – virtually at least… pedophilia is a mostly straight phenomenon) And then there was this article about the girl who was kicked out of a Christian school because her parents were lesbians – not because she was gay, but her parents! (Eric wrote about this in another blog entry.)
I think I have just had a very fortunate experience in the church I attend and the Christians I am friends with… because bullshit like this just keeps happening… just not to me. For some reason that is unknown to me, homosexuality is different from any other ‘sin’. Would that school have kicked that girl out if her parents were straight but one (or both) of them had been married before? Would they have asked for proof that their prior spouse committed adultery? Is the Vatican going to bar straight men with high libidos from entering their seminaries? Christians have no problem showing compassion and accepting alcoholics, or someone addicted to porn (but of course, it would have to be straight porn!), or any number of other sins. But mention that you’re gay… you don’t even have to be in a relationship, you just have to be gay… and suddenly you’re a pariah. For some reason, most Christians can’t separate the ‘sinner’ from the ‘sin’ here. This crap has got to stop.
The other problem with the ‘love the sinner, hate the sin’ philosophy – when applied to homosexuality – is that so many Christians see being gay as sin… so when they say “I love you, I just hate the sin”, what they end up saying is “I love you; I just hate this massive part of your identity.” And if this gets internalized, it can lead to huge problems… as I’m sure many gay Christians have experienced, I know I did. Trying not to hate myself when I was told I was supposed to hate this huge, core part of my identity… well, it was pretty much impossible. I’m 30 years old, and I still struggle with not hating myself because of this.
So… basically, I didn’t tell Eric to ‘lighten up’. I still think that ‘love the sinner, hate the sin’ is a nice ideal, but the way it is practiced – or rather, the way it is not practiced needs to change.
Posted by JJ at 8:44 PM
Thursday, September 22, 2005
Yesterday I was babysitting two of my favourite kids and we watched this movie called The Miracle Maker. It’s basically a claymation (with a bit of animation) telling of the story of Jesus. It was interesting watching it with these kids whose parents have both, at one time or another, been pastors at my church. They anticipated pretty much everything (except for Mary Magdalene’s demon possession, which scared one of the kids, but I didn’t know that until her dad came home and she started crying… kids can be weird that way), and were explaining the lessons we can learn from the stories as they came along.
We get to the part about the temptation of Christ – specifically the part where Satan tempted Christ to throw himself off of a building so that the angels would catch him – and the little girl got a bit confused and started asking what was going on. I started to explain, but the 8 year old boy jumped in and said “He’s asking Jesus to try and prove God is good, instead of just believing it. We are not supposed to test God.”
I turned and stared at him – not that he noticed, he was too busy strategizing how he was going to cream me at Risk – it’s not that I haven’t heard that before, it’s just that I hadn’t heard it so clearly before. I know we are not supposed to test God; I had just not really thought about what that means… or made the connection between this passage and my life.
How many times did I pray and ask God to prove He loved me and that He was good by making me straight?
Or ask Him to prove His goodness by explaining His rules to me?
So I’ve been thinking about what it means to have the ‘faith of a child’… does it means to accept at face value the statements God has made about His character? Children believe what you say, no matter the evidence to the contrary. I think about all the times, as a child, when my dad would tell me he was going to call, or come visit, and I would believe him – no matter how many times he broke his promises, I would believe him (and, if I’m completely honest, I still do that with him… I really should know better by now). I don’t mean that to say that this is what my relationship with God is supposed to be like, just to point out the absolute faith I had as a child.
Now, I’m going to stray into some possible heresy here… but we grow out of that blind faith for a reason. In order to be able to fend for ourselves, we need to be able to test things. We take cars for test drives, we get building inspectors to look at new houses before we buy them… we learn how to test things – and people – so we can see who and what we can and cannot trust. These are necessary survival skills. But we are not supposed to apply them to our relationship with God? That seems impossible to me.
I know that in comparison to God I will never be more than a child – and I like the idea of being His child that he cares for and looks after. But it is hard not to question His goodness when I am faced with what, at worst, looks like cruelty, and at best looks like randomness. Hurricane Katrina… the Tsunami… both very random, and both within the realm of God’s creation and control… and of course, there are countless other examples.
But of course, this is my blog, and this is all about me, so let’s get self-centered for a moment. I’m gay… and whether or not it’s genetic, or the result of events in my childhood; it’s something I have had no control over. It’s something random that happened to me. I can control my behavior, but I cannot control who I am attracted to, who I fall in love with. And the arbitrariness of the apparent rule against any expression of that part of me bothers me – to put it mildly (again, let me reassert that I am still thinking about this, I’m not sure if such a rule exists). It seems cruel, and kind of thoughtless – and those are not characteristics that I want in a God I worship.
And yes, I’ve read the arguments about gender complimentarity, and… well… I guess I’ve just seen too many heterosexual relationships that were not good because there was no real complimentarity, and I’ve seen gay relationships where there was wonderful complimentarity – one of the most balanced relationships I know of is the one I mentioned before, between one of my best friends and her girlfriend. They just compliment each other so well. The argument will go on to say that there is no complimentarity between people of the same gender physically… but is the physical aspect the only important and relevant part of a relationship? Not to mention the fact that I’m not even sure I buy that this argument is based in Scripture… it seems more like psychobabble to me.
Anyway, the point is that despite all of this, I am called to trust in the goodness of God. I am not to test Him. Is that what I’m doing now? I don’t think so… I don’t think asking questions is testing Him… but I am to trust in His goodness in the midst of all of this. This is so hard, and I don’t know if I can do it.
Posted by JJ at 9:53 PM
Tuesday, September 20, 2005
It is 4:33 in the morning and I have just woken up from a very disturbing dream. I dreamt that I was dating a strikingly beautiful woman and that I found out that she was the leader of a cult that abused children – beating them with the backs of brushes with nails in them. If you read a certain part of this post, you might already know that this is pretty much the worst things my brain can come up with– abusing children… so I think I can safely call this dream a nightmare. It’s kind of odd. I don’t have nightmares very often. Of course, now I’m wide awake and I have to clear my mind of these mental images before I can go back to sleep. So, I thought I’d ‘blog my troubles away’.
One of the weird things about this dream is that in involved dating. I very rarely have dreams about dating, or romance or whatever. I have the occasional sex dream (as I suppose every sexually starved person does)… I wake up from those feeling slightly embarrassed and guilty and then I go on about my day. But romance? Relationship? I want those things way more than I want sex and yet they rarely show up in my dreams… and I suppose the part of me that is thinking ‘celibacy’ felt the need to punish me for dating a woman by throwing in the abuse stuff. Oy. The subconscious is a scary place, isn’t it?
I’ve been thinking a bit about the phrase “God-given rights”, and wondering what those are. I’m not talking about human rights, or the rights of the child, or women’s rights, or even gay rights. I’m wondering what are the rights we have that are given to us by God. I guess the thing I’m specifically thinking about is this idea that I have the ‘right to be happy’. I guess I’m just trying to figure out where this ‘right’ is promised me, because it’s certainly not biblical. In the Bible I see no evidence that God ‘owes me’ the things that (I think) will make me happy. (Oh man, I’m just imagining the comments I will get over that!) What I recoil from is the apparent unfairness inherent in the system… how come some people get to be happy and others don’t? I know that that is an incredibly juvenile thing to say – basically it boils down to whining, “…but it isn’t fair!” – and I’m not 6 years old, and I should know better. Fairness is not the standard. Justice (tempered with God’s unfathomable mercy) is. And in the light of heaven, I suppose it will all balance out… I mean, after several millennia in eternity, who is going to care about a few decades of misery and loneliness, eh? But I’m tired of hoping in heaven. That may be blasphemous, I don’t know. Maybe I should say I’m tired of that being my only hope.
Maybe I just need to get out of here… get away from all of my married friends… my ‘married with children’ friends. It’s inevitable, really, I’m 30. I only have one unmarried/unattached friend – and she’s 24… it will happen eventually. But that’s only a temporary solution. Wherever I may go, whoever I meet, it happens. People get married. I may go away anyway, though. I’m tired of married people… tired of being around them and having this thing I want in front of my face all the time (Oh man, I can’t believe I just wrote that out… it’s the middle of the night, and I’m tired and uncensored… we’ll see if I leave that in).
Okay, my thoughts are becoming wildly incoherent and bitter… I should probably go back to bed before I end up writing something I really shouldn’t. I may have done that already…
Goodnight…er…Good Morning… whatever…
Posted by JJ at 5:16 AM
Wednesday, September 14, 2005
I thought I'd better write another blog entry to maybe stem the tide of comments on my last blog. Don't get me wrong, I love getting comments, so please, keep them coming... but I must admit to being a little overwhelmed by the response to my last entry. I had no idea so many people were reading!
Anyway, I thought I'd answer a question that CK asked me about what I mean by 'sensing the presence of God'. I suppose I should start by clarifying what I don't mean. I don't mean a 'spiritual experience’ – those wonderful mountaintop moments when God's presence is so overwhelming that you can't help but cry or laugh... or having a revelation, or even 'hearing God's voice'. Those times are wonderful, but you can't live in that state all the time (at least, I think you can't, maybe I'm wrong.)
I think in metaphors, so I think this is the best I can give you. One of my best and dearest friends lives thousands of miles away from me, in Ireland. Our contact is sporadic at best (but always wonderful and meaningful when it happens), but I have complete confidence in him and in our friendship. I know that he is there, and I know that if I called him up he would answer, (or call me back) and we would have a wonderful conversation. I know that he loves me, and that our friendship is rock solid. And this may sound a bit odd, although I think if you think about it you may understand it, but knowing that he is there, and that he is my friend, and that he loves me makes me feel better – more confident... even safer somehow. And it doesn't matter if I can't see him, or don't hear his voice , or feel his touch all the time, I just know that he's there for me.
That's what I'm talking about (it is obviously not an exact analogy)... but of course on a much larger scale. I don't feel confident in God's love, or His presence, or the fact that He even hears me when I pray. It's unnerving, to say the least. And I know that there was a long time when I was incredibly angry at God – and if I'm completely honest, I still have those anger issues (not all revolving around this whole gay thing, but it's definitely in there) – and so I wasn't praying... but I am now, or I'm trying to. It's getting harder and harder, because I feel like I'm talking to myself (or the cat). But I am going to persevere, because... well... what else can I do? Where else can I go? Christ has the words of eternal life. I dare not give up.
I know that this blog makes it seem like all I ever think about is being gay... and I admit, I'm thinking about it more now than I was before, as I try to figure this out. But a friend of mine who has been helping me talk this out since the beginning reminded me, I must not lose my focus on Christ. That doesn't mean I’m going to stop wrestling this out, but He should be at the centre. Eric talks about this in his latest blog entry... about how Christ is our hope… so I guess when I say I'm looking for hope; I should know where to look, eh? It's just that... well, as I've said before, I'm wondering where He is.
Posted by JJ at 5:18 PM
Monday, September 12, 2005
How long, O LORD ? Will you forget me forever? How long will you hide your face from me?
How long must I wrestle with my thoughts and every day have sorrow in my heart? How long will my enemy triumph over me?
Look on me and answer, O LORD my God. Give light to my eyes, or I will sleep in death;
my enemy will say, "I have overcome him," and my foes will rejoice when I fall.
But I trust in your unfailing love; my heart rejoices in your salvation.
I will sing to the LORD, for he has been good to me.
This is my favourite Psalm, and I had actually forgotten about it until yesterday, when my pastor read it in church. As he was reading I felt myself get very excited, thinking “The Psalms! That’s right, I forgot about the Psalms… David, a man after God’s own heart, felt like this at times too. I might not be totally lost.”
And then last night, I pulled out my Prayers of Walter Brueggemann (I mentioned this book before), and this is a section of the prayer that I read last night (I’m just reading through it page by page):
not clear about our waiting
But filled with a restlessness,
daring to imagine
that you are not finished yet –
so we wait,
quaking and fearful
boldly and daring…
…we wait for you to ache and hurt and care over us
and with us
and beyond us…
This waiting… “How long, O Lord?” I feel like I’ve been waiting forever… I’ve been waiting so long I’m beginning to question whether or not I’ve ever not been waiting… if waiting for God is like waiting for Arthur to return from Avalon – a nice idea, a pleasant but pretend hope, a great and grand story we tell that is probably not true...
But I am not alone in this. Others have gone before me and felt the same thing, like David; whose sins include adultery and murder, and whom God still loved and sought after by sending the prophet Nathan to speak truth into his life. I say that because I know that there is at least one person who reads this blog who will say that the reason God is distant from me is because I am sinning by being gay – not by doing anything, simply by being gay… that I am dishonouring God… And while I disagree with this person, I believe that if he is right, then I want God to tell me, am I sinning by calling myself gay? I honestly don’t think that’s possible, but I have felt so alone for so long that I am willing to accept that possibility. And if so, what do I do about it? Do I simply change my label? The label isn’t that important anyway, my sexuality is not the only part of me, in fact it isn’t even the most important part of me, but denying it means lying to myself, to others… even to God… so… hmmm… even as I write this out, that doesn’t make sense. I don’t think that can be right. So what is it? How do I fix this? Is this something I can fix? Do I just continue waiting… do I spend my life waiting? How long, O LORD ? Will you forget me forever? How long will you hide your face from me?
Posted by JJ at 1:53 PM
Thursday, September 08, 2005
Most of the time I like living alone; I can pick what I want to watch on TV without argument, if I don’t feel like doing the dishes I don’t have to, there’s no fighting over who gets the most comfortable chair (except for recently, while I’ve been cat-sitting. I think I’ve won the fight though). This does not negate the fact that I would like to be married, or at least know that there is the potential for that… but I figure, if I have to be single (I’m still undecided) I might as well enjoy as much of it as I can.
But then something like today comes along and I realize how nice it would be to have another person around. I took my dining room table in to a hardware store to get it fixed yesterday – actually, I only meant to take the legs in, but when I got there the guy asked me all these questions (about bolts, and fasteners, and L-bracket…uh…stuff) and I had no idea what he was talking about, so he asked me to just bring the table in so he could see for himself. I spent about half an hour getting the table into my car, even though the legs were not attached… it was just heavy, and I kept thinking that if I had had just one more pair of hands it would have probably only taken about 5 minutes. But… well, I was able to do it by myself. But then today, when I went to pick it up again… that was another story. The guy at the store helped me put the table back into my car, so that wasn’t a problem, but when I got back home all hell broke loose. I don’t know if I can describe exactly what happened, but I’ll give you the highlights… I dropped the table on my foot – twice. I swore in front of an old lady – at least twice. I blocked the hallway in the basement of my building for several minutes, which would have been fine if it wasn’t for the fact that people were trying to get by – they were not mean, but they were also not happy. Oh, and then there was the fact that everything just fell into pieces in the elevator, and the aforementioned old lady was stuck trying to hold the elevator open while stretching over my body as I tried to get all the pieces (legs, table top, screws, etc…) out so she could go on about her day. She was actually really sweet, but I still felt really bad.
I know I could call a friend for help, but it seem so frustrating that I have to do that any time I need an extra pair of hands. I feel like I’d be using them… or that they might feel that I’m using them. I do it when I have to – I borrowed a friend’s husband to go car shopping with me, and I originally asked some friends to help me fix my table (it turned out I needed something from the hardware store which is why I ended up going there instead), but today was different. I didn’t need skill, I just needed hands.
I suppose a roommate would have helped me with the table… but, well, I don’t want a roommate. I loved having roommates while I had them; but now that I’ve lived alone I don’t want to be living with, and compromising with, and making decisions with a person who is probably not a permanent part of my life… and who, let’s face it, is just a roommate. If I’m going to go through all of the things that come with living with another human being, I want it be something more significant than that. The frustrating thing is, that ‘something more significant’ is something that I want… it’s not a ‘take it or leave it’ thing. It’s not a case of “well, if I can’t have marriage then I guess I’ll just travel a lot”… it’s a case of “I’ll travel a lot to try and distract myself from the fact that knowing that I’ll never be able to get married makes me miserable.”
I wish I could just find some hope somewhere, some hope for more than a distraction, more than “sublimating” my desires with other things… That’s been suggested a few times, and to be perfectly honest, I’m not sure what it means... instead of getting married I help the poor? Is it really an either/or thing? Are married people not supposed to help the poor? I mean, that’s ridiculous… so how come they get to help the poor and have a loving spouse at home? I don’t get it.
Anyway, those are my thoughts today… all inspired by dropping a table on my foot and saying ‘fuck!’ in front of an old lady. In my defense, it really hurt!
Posted by JJ at 12:27 PM
Wednesday, September 07, 2005
Did I ever say that I enjoyed looking at “analysis and study of the Greek origins of words”? Because John Boswell seems determined to prove me out to be a liar. Of course, he’s dead, so – unless he read my blog from beyond the grave, went back in time and wrote this book; it probably wasn’t his intention to exhaust the part of my brain that enjoys linguistic stuff… bit still… I am 19 pages into his book, and I am worn out!
The book is Same-Sex Unions in Pre-Modern Europe. He wrote another book which is apparantly more of an theological study on homosexuality, but… well, as I mentioned, I am a history buff, and when it came time to choose which one of his books I picked up, I couldn’t resist. I’m pretty sure (fingers crossed, knock on wood, click my heels together…) that the whole book isn’t going to be about Greek (and Latin, and Hebrew, and German…) origins of words, it’s probably just going to be the first chapter (which is called “The Vocabulary of Love and Marriage”). One of the main problems is that when he is discussing Greek words, he writes them out in actual Greek, which means nothing to me – and once he has explained a word, he feels free to use that Greek word (in actual Greek) later on, which is pretty much impossible for me to follow, because I don’t read Greek. Most authors would use an anglosized version of whatever Greek word they were talking about, but I guess that’s too low-brow for Boswell.
The point (I think) that he’s getting at is that you can’t simply translate word for word, especially when translating ancient documents (which is ostensably what this book is going to be based on). For example, if, several hundred years from now, someone were to be attempting to translate something from the 21st century and they came across the phrase “slept with”, they could not in good conscience translate that word for word, because it is most likely to have nothing to do with actual sleep, it probably means “had sex with”. So he is, as a historian, looking at the context of the documents he is reading, and attempting to justify his translations, and therefore his results with this first chapter… I think I may skip it. I’m just going to trust him, cause… well, he’s much smarter than me and man! it’s exhausting!
I have mentioned before that I am lacking a sense of God’s presence, and the feeling that my prayers bounce back at me. I don’t really know what to do about this except keep trying. The problem is that I’ve run out of words… the sum total of my prayers can be said in one word: “Please…” I sit down (kneel down, lay down) to pray and that is the only word I can think of. I can only hope that the Spirit is interceding for me. I picked up a book last night that was given to me by a friend; Awed to Heaven, Rooted in Earth: Prayers of Walter Brueggemann and I prayed the first prayer in the book, and I think I’ll pray through this book for a while. Not that I’ve abandoned my “please” prayer, it’s just that I don’t know what else to do… I want His presence in my life… I’m so tired of not knowing.
Posted by JJ at 10:59 AM
Monday, September 05, 2005
I have just now finished reading A Strong Delusion: Confronting the “Gay Christian” Movement by Joe Dallas. I will admit to skimming through some if it, but that’s because he seemed to be ‘confronting’ things that I don’t believe – i.e.: the notion that believing that homosexuality is innate naturally leads to acceptance of homosexual behavior. If you’ve read any of my blog you know that I don’t believe that – my attempt to discover if homosexual behavior is okay is not revolving around my belief (or inclination to believe) that homosexuality is innate. Another assumption he makes is that gay Christians for the most part dismiss the Bible as an authority on homosexuality because the writers of Scripture had no knowledge of homosexual orientation as we understand it today. Maybe he’s right about the fact that most gay Christians hold this view (Mel White definitely does) – he has had more contact with gay Christians than I have, but that is not the perspective I am looking at this from. I believe that God knew what He was doing when he put the Bible together, so I’m not going to ignore passages of Scripture simply because the authors may not have understood something – God understands everything.
So… this book left me a bit frustrated, simply because most of it was not dealing with any issues that I’m thinking about… and because it appears (to me) to give an unbalanced view of the gay Christian perspective. In the entire book there was only one chapter confronting the actual Scriptural arguments that gay Christian theologians use – and he didn’t cover all of them (notably omitting the arguments I found most interesting: the Roman centurion and the meaning of the word eunuch). He has recommended other books that are more exhaustive, so I’m going to see if I can find copies of them. I am doing my best to be balanced in my reading.
One of the other things that frustrated me was his terminology. This is a syntax thing, I suppose, but for the most part he does not make a distinction between homosexuality and homosexual behavior. This is a distinction that I think must be made, and the language we use is important in making it… but I may have a personal bias in this… in grade 10 when someone spread the rumor around my entire school that I was a lesbian, I hadn’t done anything, and no one was saying that I had… but… well… it was a bad year. Luckily I changed schools for grade 11. Anyway, the point is, the distinction must be made. And while I don’t think he believes that a person can’t be a Christian and be gay, he keeps saying that because he was not careful with his use of language… and I’m kind of sensitive to that because there was a time (a rather large portion of time) when I was worried that I was doomed to hell because of what I was, so I don’t like hearing that.
One of the things he says that I just disagree with is that Christians do not ‘pick and choose’ what passages of Scripture to believe and preach on. He says that Christians are quick to condemn heterosexual sin as much as homosexual sin. I just don’t agree with this. First of all, no one got up in arms and said that legitimizing common-law relationships between heterosexual couples was a sign that our ‘civilization was in crisis’ … and if anyone did, no one really cared. There were no protests or letter writing campaigns or spiteful sermons, even though most conservative Christians would agree that common-law relationships are a sin. For some reason it just didn’t bother people that much… maybe because common-law, heterosexual relationships look like marriage. Who knows. And divorce… I almost never hear that talked about. I went to a church in Toronto where both the senior pastor and his wife had been married previously. And no one asked whether or not either of their previous spouses had committed adultery, therefore leaving them free to marry again. (Matthew 19:8-9). And then there’s the issue of women in the church. Most of the verses that talk about this are dismissed as culturally based, and people look to rather obscure things (like the fact that in his letters Paul sometimes puts the woman’s name first. E.g.: Romans 16:3) to prove that women should be allowed to preach, or speak etc… And yet when gay theologians try to do the same thing they are accused of diluting Scripture.
I will say that, other than Tony Campolo, this author is the first one I’ve come across to take the conservative view who didn’t feel the need to use some of the more hateful rhetoric I’ve read. He also does not insist that all homosexuals can change (even though he himself identifies as ‘ex-gay’). He probably takes the most reasonable stance on this that I’ve read so far actually… saying that just because some people change does not mean that all change, and likewise, just because some people are unable to change does not mean that this applies to everyone.
One of the things he talks about in an early chapter is how he believes that the legitimization of homosexuality will lead to the legitimization of pedophilia. Now before you get all upset, he (quite strongly) explains that homosexuals are not pedophiles (something I wish would be shouted from the rooftops until heterosexuals get it in their heads… statistically speaking, their children are safer from sexual abuse with us than they are in their own homes with their heterosexual parents.) What he is saying is that he believes that lifting the cultural taboo off of homosexuality will lead to lifting of other cultural taboos, including pedophilia. He cites some quotations from various sources that sound strikingly similar to arguments from gay activists – i.e.: pedophilia is a problem only to those who are distressed by it.
I wanted to address this because I think that there is a fundamental difference between the taboo on homosexuality and the taboo on pedophilia. I do believe that it was the lifting of restrictions on sexual activities between heterosexuals during the so-called ‘sexual revolution’ that led to the gay rights movement. The idea was that whatever two (or more… the 60s were weird) consenting adults did together was their own business. As long as no one was hurt, why should anyone else care? I think the fundamental difference is contained in the phrase that you will hear repeated again and again in arguments for gay rights – “consenting adults”. First of all, consent. As a society, we have agreed that children cannot consent – not that they are not allowed to, but that they do not have the ability to consent. And this does not only apply to sexual activity. I remember learning at one point (after a weird incident involving our phone bill) that any contract I signed before I was 16 years old was not in any way binding because it was recognized that I did not have the ability to make that kind of decision. I believe that for pedophilia to be accepted it would take a fundamental shift in our perception of what children were capable of. Another huge paradigm shift that would have to take place is in our perception of what our role as adults is in relation to children. Now, perhaps I am a bit extreme in this (I do work with children a lot), but I believe that one of the major roles of adults (not just parents, but all adults) is to protect children. And I believe that most people, whether they would word it like that or not, agree with me. This is why, when organizations like World Vision, or the Red Cross (by the way, donate if you can) want to elicit donations; they will use the image of children suffering more than any other. Instinctively, as adults, we want to protect them. This instinctive impulse is the main reason why I do not believe that the taboo on pedophilia will be lifted, no matter what taboos are lifted in the sexual activities of adults… at least not as a result of the lifting of these restrictions.
Anyway, I just wanted to address that because his argument was so alarming, and at its base, rather faulty (at least to me).
Frustratingly, this author (like Stott) also does not offer anything up as hope for gay Christians. He tells his story, but it is just his story. He was gay, he is now not, and so he’s married and happy. But, as he already stated, this is not going to be the case for everyone. The thing is, I’m realizing, is that none of the conservative authors (with the exception of Tony Campolo – and even then, it’s only one chapter in an entire book) are writing to gay Christians, they are writing to straight Christians to tell them how to argue against pro-gay theology – this book in particular, as evidenced by the hilarious mock conversations he puts at the end of his chapters. This does not really help me all that much.
Next I think I’ll read Boswell’s book on gay marriages in the middle ages… I’m kind of inclined to save it for last, because I’m so excited about it. I hadn’t realized how much of a historical text it was, and, well… I’m a history buff. But I don’t really have much else to read on this subject on hand… well, except for Women, Slaves and Homosexuals… which… oy. I’ll get to it. I will… just not now. It’s just too heavy.
Posted by JJ at 4:42 PM
Friday, September 02, 2005
Words of wisdom from Popeye the Sailor Man.
The friend I mentioned before came over the other night and I told her I was gay… after two hours of stalling. The problem, of course, is that there is rarely a natural segue into coming out… you know… “It’s interesting that you mentioned your husband – he’s a man, right? You like men? Well… funny thing…”
Wouldn’t work. It always has to come right out of the blue. So, after she and I had played pool for an hour and a half (she won all three games… I’m going to blame it on the fact that I was nervous), she was about to leave and I just said “There’s something I need to tell you.”
She freaked out, thinking I was going to tell her I was leaving the country again… which I’m thinking about doing. I hemmed and hawed for a few moments and then just said it. “I’m gay.”
Her response was not quite what I’d expected. She tilted her head to one side and said, “I know.”
I’ve gotten that response more than once, and it always makes me nervous when it comes from straight people because I don’t know exactly what it means.
Anyway, she asked me what I was doing about it (again, I’m not entirely sure what she meant), so I showed her the books I am reading, and this blog – I actually showed her the entry I’d written about her. She laughed when she got to the part about my not having been in love with her, saying “I’m not your type.” Which was funny, because she may have been joking, but she was right – she’s not my type. It makes me wonder how much she knew back then, when I was doing my best to hide it from myself… even while I was going out for walks in the middle of the night to scream up at God because He wouldn’t fix me.
The other funny thing that she said was that she was relieved. She’d been worried about me ever since I’d come back from Ireland 5 years ago, because she knew I was hiding something from her, but she couldn’t figure out what. She is officially the first person who has been “relieved” that I’m gay.
…well, maybe not relieved that I’m gay… relieved that that’s all it was. I hadn’t had sex, or become a drug addict… or something else even worse.
One thing about this particular friend is that she says exactly what she thinks, and so she felt the need to clarify something. When she had said that she knew I was gay, what she meant was that she knew that I had thought that about myself for a long time, but she’s not entirely sure it’s true. She said this knowing that it would sound dismissive, and even offensive… but I appreciated her saying it out loud, because I get the impression that a few of the people I’ve told feel the same way. We talked about it for a little while, and I told her I’d probably write about it on my blog, so don’t worry, I’m not doing this behind anyone’s back.
Actually, she’s not the first person to say that, at least not in so many words. Most Christians see homosexuality as a symptom of something – effectively saying “Oh, you’re not really gay, you just didn’t have a father figure.” “You’re not gay, your mother was overbearing.” “You’re not gay, you were traumatized as a child.”
I can’t tell you how annoyed I get hearing things like this. It’s like when white people insist that I’m not “really black” because I’m light skinned… like they somehow know more about me by looking at me than I know by living in my own skin.
It’s not that I dismiss those theories entirely… but… well… I mostly do. I realize I fall into the relatively small group of people who fit perfectly into the theories that most Christians believe make people gay – absent father, overbearing mother, sexual abuse as a child… I have to say that this annoys me, I don’t like being a cliché. Besides, I don’t think these theories hold water. Most gay people I know, and those I’ve simply met in passing, come from two parent homes. And (sadly) I know several people who were abused as children and came from single-parent homes, and they are all straight. Not to mention the fact that the theory about absent fathers and overbearing mothers turning people gay is used to apply to men, the explanation doesn’t really work when you use it on women.
One of the women I told insisted that there was no way homosexuality was innate, despite the evidence that it exists in nature (Have you read that study about the gay rams? Or seen that disturbingly graphic documentary about the lesbian deer? Or heard about the gay penguins in that zoo?) because we, as humans, are made in God’s image and there is no way homosexuality would fall into that because it is outside of God’s natural order. I didn’t respond, because I am much more nervous and timid when speaking (which is one of the reasons I like writing so much), but that makes no sense. All sorts of things happen, and are innate, that are outside of God’s design. One of my best friends was born blind… was that part of God’s design? Cystic Fibrosis – which is written in the genes – is that part of God’s natural order? We live in a fallen world – things happen. I am not going to join with Mel White (who wrote Stranger at the Gate) and say my homosexuality is my “unique gift”… I’m barely coming out from the shadow of calling it my curse. I think it just is. It happens. There is some suggestion (although inconclusive) that it is genetic, there is some suggestion (although inconclusive) that it is hormonal, and there is some suggestion (although inconclusive) that environmental factors play a part. No one knows for sure. And it is blindingly arrogant of Christians to insist that they know, when they don’t.
I think part of the reason people insist on these theories is because, for the most part, straight people can’t fathom being gay… so they try and explain it away. It’s kind of like what happens to my blind friend when sighted people say things to her like “Well, all your other senses must be heightened,” trying to explain away her blindness by suggesting that her other senses sort of sucked up her sight. We joke about it, but I know it annoys the hell out of her. People who can see can’t fathom being blind, so they want an explanation that will make sense to them, and make them more comfortable… like it’s not that she’s missing one of the 5 senses, it’s that it’s been misplaced.
One of the other reasons I hate hearing the “You’re not really gay, it’s just________(fill in the blank)” is because, inherent in those statements is the idea that if I just tried hard enough, or prayed hard enough, or believed hard enough, or went to this or that program, or had enough therapy I could just get over it. And as long as I’m still identifying as gay it means that I’m lazy, or without faith. It also opens the door for all the hate that is lashed out at gay people. It’s like the difference between the way someone on the extreme right and someone on the extreme left would look at a person begging on the street. The person on the far left thinks “This situation is beyond their control. They need my compassion.” The person on the extreme right thinks “They are lazy, if they would just work hard enough they could pull themselves together. They don’t deserve my compassion or my respect because it’s their own fault.” It’s not an exact metaphor, but I think it gets my point across.
Anyway, what I’m trying to say is that I don’t know why I’m gay. I just know that I am. It took me a really long time to accept it, and accepting it gave me such relief. I wish other people could accept it too.
Posted by JJ at 2:02 AM