My Mind Made Public -

I held off as long as I could ...

Wednesday, April 1, 2009

Guest Post: Divorce of the Church—Part 2

Here is Part 2 to DJ's personal experience to how homosexuality in the church affects GLBT people. And DJ, thank you so much for sharing your life and thoughts with us, allowing us to enter into your head, worries, fears and understandings...

"I don’t think people quite understand the pressure that the gay-oriented Christian feels in the church. We have a hard enough time not hating ourselves, without having to face the derision and misunderstanding of others. It is precisely this external pressure that often drives us to extreme measures: seeking ineffectual exorcisms, suppressing the very core of our sexual selves, jumping into relationships to prove we’re straight (meanwhile ruining the life and self-esteem of the hetero other in the process), and the like.

When you think that you’re going to cause mommy and daddy (in this case the Church) to split—and worse—when one of them might hate you in the process, you will do just about anything to avoid that eventuality. I’ve frequently found that the motivations behind seeking such ends are dysfunctional. Those who pursue these methods often do so due to stated and unstated pressure to conform, maintain status quo, and keep the family from getting upset. Silence seems to be the least consequential (and least destructive) way to handle these internal questions, whether openly gay, celibate, or ex-gay. This silence takes its toll.

I still struggle with this sense that I am ultimately the cause of enormous strife in the Church. I sometimes wish there simply were no gay-ness at all. I wish I could go back to the days before I became conscious of my sexuality, even as many people in the Church are more than happy to relegate sexuality to this very place. But this is simply not reality. This is not where I am—where we are. With all of my unrealistic wishing, I do hope that my greatest wish has some hope for coming to fruition:

I wish that mommy and daddy would just stop fighting.

Perhaps if more people in the church could recognize that I’m not here to destroy the Church, nor the foundations of our society, some of the dissension would abate. I’m not here to eradicate families, and I have no evil agenda to recruit your children. I love the church, absolutely love it. Why else would I put up with so many of the abuses I have felt from it? My sad testimony is replete with instances where my greatest wounds were inflicted by loving church folks. But I’ve remained. I haven’t left. I wish everyone would stop fighting because they feel so uncomfortable about my decision to stick around. It breaks my heart every time someone leaves my church over a disagreement. It’s like mommy and daddy can’t seem to be mature enough to work out their differences, so they just leave. And ultimately, it feels as if they’re leaving because of me."

Much love.


Pomoprophet said...

Excellent thoughts DJ! Thank you for putting into words the silent pressure that is often not thought about. People usually see "us" as the ones causing the strife (Although its usually talked about in terms of "them" because "they" couldn't possibly be in the church). While my existence causes stress for some people, the fact that my existence causes stress to them causes stress for me!

Jeff S. said...

Well, after I commented so quickly to Part 1, I've been left in deep thought after Part 2 and the follow-up replies from both DJ and Andy. I've probably made my own share of people in the church uncomfortable as I started to share with some years ago that I struggled with Same Sex Attraction but decided to not come out as gay, instead seeking a path toward heterosexual marriage if the Lord brought the right woman into my life (which He did). But all I generally hear in church are statements against gay marriage but no words of love or encouragement towards those who may be struggling with a homosexual orientation and what to do about it. Our theological beliefs on this issue are probably going to stay different, DJ, but I think we still have much to learn from and share with each other and with the church at large. Like Andy is doing, let's work on building the bridge. I know too many who just want to be separate and spew their beliefs and do nothing to build relationship.

D.J. Free! said...

I know such people as well, Jeff, and I too wish to build that bridge and get over it.

Pomo! Thanks as usual for love and support :)

Andrew Marin said...

The key is to be able to have these discussions in such a fashion - all things productive that further each community's understanding to put an end to this culture war.

It is my strong conviction to be able to recognize a difference in theological belief systems, and yet in staying committed, be able then to peacefully communicate (and then step out through tangible actions) the things that back up such a framework.

I find too often that whenever people like Jeff bring up what he did in his comment, progressive circles jump all over him and try their hardest to shut him, and his voice out. That is wrong. And yet just the same, it happens with DJ in more conservative cirlces - just as wrong as well (the resason I wanted him to share his insights here - to educate all of us in the unspoken).

Neither expereince should be invalidated, because it is a legitimate expression to each's life story. These are the things we need to hear, and these are the things we need to make an intentional effort to bridge - not just in words but in works as well!

I would encourage each of us to seek out someone in our local neighborhood that is coming from a totally different experiential place (as Dave Gibbons says, biblically speaking, our neighbor is the person most unlike us), and get together with them to start knowing what it means to put hands and feet to Christ's bridge building ways.