Monday, May 9, 2016

Free Indeed

In John 8:31 and 32, Jesus said to His Jewish believers, “If you hold to my teaching, you are really my disciples. 32 Then you will know the truth, and the truth will set you free.”

Then, in John 8:34-36, in discussions with those that did not believe in Him He said, “Very truly I tell you, everyone who sins is a slave to sin. 35 Now a slave has no permanent place in the family, but a son belongs to it forever. 36 So if the Son sets you free, you will be free indeed.

I think that we who believe in Jesus want these things for ourselves. We want to know the truth. We want to be free, to be free from sin and it's penalties, to be free of the guilt and pain associated with not living in the truth. We are tired of being slaves. We want to be part of God's family; His sons and daughters. We long to be "free indeed".  

Many times however, the truth does not set us free. Instead, it makes us angry or guilty or regretful or whatever else you can think of besides free. When Christians are faced with this situation we either change or investigate the matter or tell whoever delivered the "inconvenient truth" that they are wrong.

Let me tell you right now, if whatever it is... is the truth, than you or I or anyone else that holds a contrary view is wrong and we will never be free until we make peace with this truth.

This is why I am longing for a place for people like me to gather in community. For centuries, same sex attracted (SSA) Christian people have hidden in the shadows of the Church. This has no more been our choice than our SSA status. I know that some would like to argue that last point. I will not go there today except to say that you need to get a grasp on "the truth". There are varying degrees of SSA among those that struggle with it. Some of us can make opposite sex marriage work. For others of us, there is no hope of this. This is me in case you're wondering
Many SSA's have married and have opposite sex partners that know of their mate's other desires. Some of have married and never told their opposite sex partners. Either way, this is possible because they love their partners and have at least some sexual desire for them in particular. Still others of us, most of us, have never married because we can't. We do not have a heterosexual bone in our bodies. We may enjoy the company of the opposite sex and spend much of our time with them, but we have no sexual attraction to them. For us, if we are Christian, if we know the truth, we must remain celibate.

What I would like to do is create a meeting place where we SSA types can all get together regularly to discuss our SSA issues. I think we need to bring together the married SSA's with the single celibates and even those SSA Christians that are in 'the life', but want out of it. There is much to discuss. We can help and support each other. We can vent. We can be ourselves. We can share in the struggle and uphold Jesus as our King and our brother.

One might ask, "what about anonymity?" Good question. Y'all may not be out like me. My answer is this. A promise of anonymity to anyone that joins the group. Secrecy of the membership. If you're in the closet, you will only have to crack the door enough to talk to us, whoever 'us' may be. It's true that we may already know you. Your secret will be safe with us until you choose otherwise. Such a group would never have 'outing' as its purpose.

Someone else might ask, "how will you prevent this from becoming a 'hook up' meeting?". Another good and slightly touchy, mildly offensive question. First, we are all Christ followers. We are called either to man/woman marriage or singleness, but nothing else. We all must acknowledge this, even though some of us may be failing. This would, in fact be one of the purposes of the group. Accountability.

I think another major purpose would be to desexualize our relationships with the same sex/gender and especially those we find ourselves attracted to. We need to face facts. Most of us SSA Christian guys do not spend much time with those of our own sex because - ya, you know.  If we think they are hot, we get all embarrassed and and and whatever. If we were not subconsciously or even consciously sexualizing them, this would not happen. What do I mean by 'desexualize'? Here's an excerpt from the YOB website.

"What needs to happen, then, is a desexualization of what is improperly sexual to us. Most of my own sexualization of men was based on a need to be loved and accepted by them, to be one of them; it was a need for intimacy and connection and to see that I was indeed completely man myself."

I think we can defuse some of that. I really do. Even before coming out, I made some straight male friends. It has been the best thing for me. I love these guys, but I am not in love with them. I like to spend time with them, but I do not want to sleep  with them. Why? Because they are my friends and I do not want to do anything to injure that relationship or what we share in Christ.

It can be a beautiful thing can it not?

I am just now beginning to consider all this. If I let my imagination run free with the idea, I can see Christian chapters of SSA Anonymous or something similar springing up in Christian communities everywhere, crossing denominational barriers and national borders.

We need to stop hiding. We love Jesus and we love our brothers and sisters in Christ. We bring so much to the table in terms of talent at church and we need to get free of the obstacles that are holding us back from further creation. We are a creative bunch. God loves us and that's why he saved us. With the help of the Spirit and each other, we can all become much more than what we are in the body of Christ.

As a side note, this will NOT be a place for repairative or conversion  therapy. If you have an interest in such things, it can still be pursued with professionals outside of this proposed group, but it is not something that I believe should fall under the group mission. I have reasons for this that I would discuss with anyone that wanted to talk about it.


Am I the only one that thinks this might be a good idea? Shall we embrace the Truth of who we are and free ourselves from it? Now might be just the time for it.

I can't say that any of this will ever happen. I can't say that I should be the one to do it. I am not what you would call a strong leader. I may not be a leader at all when I stop and think about it. I just want people to be free of fear when they come to Jesus and His church. I want us to be a people that approach God's throne of grace with boldness. I want that for all of us. Church should be a safe place; a no hate zone. This needs to happen in some way shape or form now.

We need to know the Truth so that the Truth can set us indeed.       


Longing for a Better Country

It's because I have always felt like a foreigner and alien here and most everywhere I go. I have never felt like one of you, whoever you are. I might work with you or go to the same church with you or you might be part of my family. I probably even love you if I know you, but I feel unconnected from you and every single thing going on around me for reasons I can't really explain.

Then life's spot light moves toward me and everyone is watching. Weird huh?

It's like I've been watching a movie being made. The plot continues to unfold, then I become part of the cast. I have a role to play. It's a rather involved role that I received as a 'walk on' to the movie set. I started interacting with the cast late in life. I am integral to the plot, but the rest of the cast and writers cannot figure out where to put me so I become self directing, writing my own character as the filming proceeds.  Never mind everyone elses role. A new plot line is in the offing that may give rise to a new film.

Suddenly there is interest in what I have to say and in my role in the film. My character tries to interact. He is having a hard time because he is so different from the others.  The producers worry that he will threaten the "G" rated film they are trying to produce, driving the rating to an "R". Nevertheless, my character boldly asserts himself.

We do not deal well with people that do not conform to our preconceived notions of reality or the plots in our particular films. We have problems with where to put these people in our lives. Then when they take a position front and center in our little celluloid lifetime extravaganzas, we just want to find a way to write them out of the plot.

I can remember when I was young, there were very few black people in films and virtually none on television . When they finally did begin appearing with regularity it was as if no one knew where to put them in the white plot scenarios and so the character usually died somewhere in the film.

This is the way it's been for me and my life. Being a same sex attracted Christian in a conservative American church where everyone knows who you are (including the SSA part) is tough. They think I'm interesting, but I do not think they really know what to do with me. It has been an adventure for everyone involved.  I have felt the acceptance of my brothers and sisters. They empathize with my struggles. They support. They love me. But I still feel like an adopted member of their "movie cast".

It's not their fault. I do not blame them. It's me. I can not get shed of how foreign I feel even though I have a place and a role and have been accepted as a costar in their film.

What is it with me?

I think I know what's missing. I know there are others like me at church. Only one has confided in me his truth, his secret, but I know there are others. One of them just came into the coffee shop where I am writing this. I saw him and he saw me but not at the same time. He came in, got his order and walked out. We did not acknowledge each other's presence.

We go to the same damn church (there goes the 'G' rating). It's not a big church. Not a Sunday goes by that we do not actually see each other or walk by each other. Though he's never been to my class, I regularly see him praising the Lord with his talents, but we have never talked. What is up with that? Is this entirely my fault...or does he too feel alien and foreign? Maybe.

Why can't we be who we are? Why can't we talk? Is this my fault? Is it because I am 'out' in our little movie that we do not talk? Is it because you think I might harbor unvirtuous feelings toward you? Look Bud, I am not an old pervert OK?

(Ghog is projecting here. He does this. When he's too scared to talk to someone, he blames the victim and since, I'm Ghog, I'm not sure why I'm talking parenthetically.)

I know that some have this picture of me in their mind as old, boring and conservative. There is some truth in this, but I think most folks still find me at least interesting. I don't know...or maybe I do.

I know that I wrote last week in a negative way about ministry to same sex attracted people. I have come to the conclusion that I was wrong. I do not often say that and since you know that, you are probably listening.

Guys...we are Sons of the Most High. We should not go through this life with this struggle alone. We need to help and support each other as we stand up for our King. We need some community of our own. I think we all have 'stuff ' we need to unload. Tell me I'm wrong about that! You know I'm not. Let's bust some walls down. I think we are just about ready. I've been trying to educate the straight folks at church and condition them to be able to talk about this stuff. We need to talk too.

I do not feel a call to lead a ministry or a small group. I do not want us to segregate ourselves. I do think we have things we can discuss that only we would understand and be able to help each other with. Is that so crazy? Let me leave you with this from Hebrews 11:13-16.
13 All these people were still living by faith when they died. They did not receive the things promised; they only saw them and welcomed them from a distance, admitting that they were foreigners and strangers on earth. 14 People who say such things show that they are looking for a country of their own. 15 If they had been thinking of the country they had left, they would have had opportunity to return. 16 Instead, they were longing for a better country—a heavenly one. Therefore God is not ashamed to be called their God, for he has prepared a city for them.

Lets quit wandering around this desert alone and find our new place to live together in peace with our God. That's all I'm saying.

Does any of this make sense? I hope so. Maybe I need to refine my thought processes. Not sure. I can tell you the Spirit is moving me to do something. I am hoping I don't mess it up. If you are out there and you are like me, pray that he guides me and that I listen. I have this urge to set people free. I do not want to hurt anyone in that process. 

Now let's make this movie.