Sunday, May 15, 2016

Problems With Chapter 9

As many of you are aware, I have been teaching "Messy Grace" by Caleb Kaltenbach at church in two classes every Sunday. I do like the book. It goes a long way toward bringing peace to the Gay vs Christians debate that has been so prevalent in our part of the western world and western churches. It has also done much for me personally. It has helped me to explain to my straight brothers and sisters in the faith how LGBT people can be believers even though we are same sex attracted in our sexuality. It was also an integral part of getting free of my last great secret. I desperately wanted to get out of my closet and for them to be free of doubt about who I am in Christ. In the months since my release from this self imposed prison, my life and the lives of those around me have been filled with the joy of the Lord about this. I want this for all my kind.  Only a very few have looked askance at what we are doing. Strangely, some of them are like me rather than the red necked heteros that you might expect.

I could go on, but that's not what I want to discuss here. I had some problems with some things that Caleb wrote in chapter 9. I would loved to sit down and discuss these items with him, but alas, he is not here, so I will go on without the blessing of his comments about my opinions. If y'all have anything to say, I'm listening.

Chapter 9 was all about "Another Way". It advised celibacy and maybe even heterosexual marriage for those of us LGBT folks that could do it. The celibacy I do. It's easier for me than contemplating a life of domestic bliss with someone I have no sexual attraction for. I have loved women for years. I enjoy their company. I enjoy spending time with them. The specter of sex with one, though, seems unnatural to me at best and downright gross at worst. Sorry ladies. I am not wired that way. I do not even think I could fake it with a dose of viagra and images of men in my mind. It just would not work.

And all of that brings me to this. Caleb thinks celibacy is a gift from God. He uses Paul's advice in I Corinthians 7 as evidence of this as well as the words of Jesus in Matthew 19.

My thought is that if celibacy is a gift, it's like getting socks for Christmas. Sure, everyone needs socks, but you don't want them for Christmas right? To my mind, celibacy was not so much a gift as it was a requirement. It was thrust on me if I wanted to be in an obedient relationship with my God. I was angry about this for a very long time. God and I did not talk much. The discussions we had were terse and, dare I say, unloving, at least for my part. I never really came to grasp just how much He loved me until much later. Needless to say, our relationship has improved. I am not so bitter about my sexual wiring...I still have my moments though. I rely on his love and grace when I feel weak. He does empower me and He does enable me.

I just do not see it as a gift. According to scripture, everyone, regardless of their sexual wiring must remain celibate until and unless they are married to a member of the opposite sex. And even then, our sexuality must remain in the bounds of that marriage. The restrictions are incredible given the power of the human sex drive.

Caleb also talks about choosing relationship with God over "any selfish fulfillment of my own desires." I have a problem with the use of the word 'selfish' here. My desires are not selfish, they are just desires. Again, it is the way I am wired. I want these things from time to time. A man gets tired of being alone...yes even me who loves to be alone. What I have learned over the years is that generally other men have been willing to spend time with me and be my friend. I have found a lot of satisfaction in these non-sexual relationships. Thanks guys for that. You know who you are and even so, you still love me just like Jesus does. You have no idea how much I appreciate this. It helps me to desexualize men and manhood in general...which is the key to actually being able to remain celibate...that and being very stubborn.

He also talks about "redeeming same sex attractions in heterosexual marriage" and he offers a real life example of this. A same sex attracted man marries his best female friend and they fall in love. She is the only woman he is attracted to because of his love for her even though he still experiences same sex attraction.

First, I guess I do not really understand how this redeems anything. He is still as gay as Dad's hatband. Second, I think this is a very dangerous practice. I can cite many real life examples where this failed spectacularly. I admire the willingness to sacrifice, especially on the part of the woman that enters a marriage knowing this. But if you choose to do this, know that the possibility of failure is great.  This idea should come with a big ole warning sign. I'm sorry Caleb, I disagree. I want to know that "Jerry and Betty" are still married after 15 more years. Call me 2031.

He also talks about something he calls "same sex temptations" in this chapter. This is way too mild in it's description of what LGBT people experience. Our SSA status is hard wired in our brains. It is part of who we are in the deepest recesses of our hearts. It is even stronger than addiction. It takes monumental strength to stand against sexual desire. You straight people need to know this and Caleb is good at helping straight folks to come to an understanding of it. I just want you to know that it is much more than mere temptation. The power of sexuality is one of our strongest drives. Imagine if it were you that was being asked to give up your mate or any potential for family or a love life.

If you can imagine that, then you can understand where I and many of my brethren have been in this struggle. This is not just a bad habit or something we resort to because we cannot get an opposite sex partner. It is an immutable part of our personalities just as your heterosexuality is.

I wish it was not this way. I wish I could flip a switch and be straight. I can't! What nut job would actually choose to live this way if they had another option.

Not me. So tread lightly with me as I work out my salvation with fear and trembling. Ultimately God will be my judge. I am confident as I come to the close of my life about what comes after. Can you say the same thing?

To those who are like me but have not yet mastered the monster within, let me say this. You won't. You will always be same sex attracted. That is not going to change with anything short of a miracle. It is part of who you are. What you can do is minimize the impact of these desires on your souls and on your bodies. Stay away from porn and internet hook up sites. Lean heavily on Jesus and sympathetic empathetic friends. Find or even create a safe space where you can talk about this with other SSA's without the sexualization that so often encompasses our lives.

Lastly...and you may not like this. Come out to your straight Christian friends. There is strength and accountability in numbers. Yes, do it even if you're married. You should have told your wife or husband prior to making that commitment anyway. I am deadly serious here.

Stop the deception and the self deception. Just stop it. Know instead what it means to be free indeed.  

What's not tried is never missed. Also, it's OK to be lonely as long as you're free. Seriously. It's OK.

I think I'm done now. Thanks for reading. Tomorrow I may tell you about my new friend. I hope he's still my friend tomorrow. We will see. It was good to talk. I know Someone else that would like to talk to you...He does love you. Start trying to wrap you mind around that. OK...goodnight!