Every Man Has A Woman To Love

I attend a men’s Bible study at my church that focuses on defining a man of God and the necessary elements in his life to make him be complete.  One of those elements is that every man has a woman to love.

Obviously being a single, celibate gay Christian, this statement bothers me.  When I question how this statement applies to a single man (not even a gay man), I am told a woman to love for a single man is the church, as modeled by Jesus.  I am still exploring this thought to see if there is any true biblical basis for such a statement.  Every time I am told this however, I cannot help but become frustrated and bitter towards the church.  Am I truly to consider my bride to be the church?  How can this be when my so-called bride doesn’t even acknowledge my existence?  Can a spouse truly feel apart of a relationship when their significant other does not even acknowledge they are in a relationship?  

As the church makes this statement, I equate it to the level of frustration that exists for women when told wives should be submissive to their husbands.  While I believe this to be biblical, as an isolated statement, it misses out on the entire meaning of the passage and ends up being used in an abusive and controlling manner.  The responsibilities of the husband are just as important and any man who tells his wife she must be submissive is clearly ignoring the sacrifice that he is suppose to make as a loving husband.  A partial biblical truth can be damaging if the full scope of the biblical passage is not given or if only part of a command is utilized.  Is it justifiable for the church to tell a single man that his bride should be the church, despite having never spoken to the church regarding their responsibilities towards singles?  It seems like an easy way out and an incomplete view, ultimately allowing the church to escape responsibility. 

If the bride of a single person is the church, what is the responsibility of said bride?  All pressure cannot be placed on the single person whom is already isolated, without family, and generally viewed as incomplete by the church. 

I would love to hear some thoughts on this topic.  Has anyone else looked into this idea that a single man’s bride is to be the church? How does that sit with your understanding of the scriptures?

Would I Give Up The Last 2.5 Years?

There was a moment today where I caught myself yet again thinking about an unhealthy relationship I was in a few years ago.  It is a continual struggle to let go of my desire to return to that relationship, particularly in times of loneliness and feelings of disconnectedness.  A couple of years ago, while immersed in this relationship, I seriously considered even moving across the country to be with this guy.  

Reflecting back, I am able to look back on the last 2 and a half years and recognize all that I would have missed had I chosen to pursuit that relationship.  I am able to think back to the exact moment where I was met with a fork in the road and I decided to trust in God instead of pursuing a relationship that at that moment, seemed like the best thing that had ever happened to me.  The road since then has definitely not been easy by no means.  Despite the ups and downs, God has used my life in so many areas and it is hard to imagine that if I had pursued my selfish desires, none of that would have happened.  When I think about the friendships that were created and deepened over the last couple years, the guys in my youth group that I have been able to impact, and even simply the experiences I myself have been able to encounter, it gives me a glimpse of hope that it was worth it.  I am really having to hold onto that right now.  I don’t have community right now.  I don’t have any close friends living near me.  I feel like I go through every day completely on my own.  I have to hold on to the hope that God is still at work.  I have to believe that I will look back two and a half years from now and yet again realize that it was worth it.  

Go Back to Jesus

I was walking to a restaurant tonight with one of my best friends and out of nowhere a woman walking passed told us “Go back to Jesus.”  We both looked at each other and back at her to make sure she was speaking to us and she turns to me and said “You in the purple shirt, go back to Jesus.”  It was such a bizarre experience and caught both of us completely off guard.  

As we sat down to eat, my friend asked me if I thought she directed it at me because she thought I was gay.  In all honesty, besides the purple dress shirt that I was wearing, I do not come across as being particularly flamboyant or fashionable.  Almost embarrassingly, my boss wore the exact same shirt to work today so I doubt that it had anything to do with looking a particular way.  Still, I could see how compared to my friend who was simply wearing a T-shirt and jeans, I could possibly have come across as looking a certain way… though I still can’t imagine it. 

Regardless of the woman’s intentions, due to how out of the blue her comment was made, it stuck with me.  As I drove home tonight, I continued to mull over her words and wonder if God may have given her a word that I needed to hear.  I know that regardless of how simple a statement it is, I do need to “go back to Jesus.”  I am caught up in my life’s circumstances.  I constantly am allowing myself, my friendships, my community and my church to dictate my view and relationship with God.  

I was reading Isaiah 6 this morning and was struck by the overwhelming awareness of Isaiah’s  sinfulness in response to being in the presence of God.  God purifies Isaiah through the coal brought from the alter.  Only once his sin is atoned for and guilt taken away is Isaiah able to be in the presence of God.  For myself, it is only by the blood of Christ that I am able to be in God’s presence.  As simple as a concept as that is, I constantly am working my way towards a connection with God and I need to recognize that my efforts are futile.  

As strange as it was, perhaps the word to “Go back to Jesus” is the very thing I need to hear and be reminded of right now.  

Lone Survivor

I watched Lone Survivor last night with one of the guys from church.  Rarely have I had the opportunity to hang out with anyone from church, so it was refreshing to grab dinner and go watch a movie.  Lone Survivor lived up to the hype and was an intense movie worth seeing.  As the men engage in combat, you feel and cringe with every blow and wound inflicted upon the SEALS body.  Though I am not very patriotic, the movie definitely deepens my respect for those who serve in combat roles overseas.

While I really enjoyed the movie, the one aspect I left disappointed in was the portrayal of the bond between the men.  In the trailer as well as in the movie, the brotherhood established between the Navy SEALS is referred to numerous times.  In some ways, I went in with expectations, longing to see men have a deep bond and connection that can only be achieved by undergoing similar extreme experiences.  However, as the movie unfolded, we were aware that the men were close, but rarely do they express that bond.  It felt as though the men still played up the importance of being tough and strong, over expressing the love and care between them and their fellow SEALS.   Perhaps it was a realistic portrayal, but for me, as you see the men slowly dying, the weight of the loss and the characters didn’t transfer over to me.  In comparison, in movies such as End of Watch, the death of a brother was so heavy that it brought me to tears.  I don’t know, perhaps I am just unrealistic.  In Lone Survivor, “We’re good right?” is as close to an expression of care we see expressed between the men through out the whole film.  Don’t get me wrong, it was an excellent film, loved every minute of it… I just really feel as though if anyone went through the experiences those men went through, the level of closeness would be far deeper and would overcome the barriers of acceptable “manly” behavior than portrayed in the film.

Always Resonating with Nouwen

The feeling of being abandoned is always around the corner.  I keep being surprised at how quickly it rears its ugly head.  Yesterday I experienced that nasty feeling in my innermost being.  Just raw anxiety, seemingly disconnected from anything.  I kept asking myself, “why are you so restless, why are you so anxious, why are you so ill at ease, why do you feel so lonely and abandoned?” …Talking lessened my anxiety and I felt peaceful again.  No one can ever heal this wound, but when I can talk about it with a good friend I feel better.

What to do with this inner wound that is so easily touched and starts bleeding again?  It is such a familiar wound.  It has been with me for many years.  I don’t think this wound -this immense need for affection, and this immense fear of rejects -will ever go away.  It is there to stay, but maybe for a good reason.  Perhaps it is a gateway to my salvation, a door to glory, and a passage to freedom!  -Henry Nouwen, Sabbatical Journey

Which Command is More Important?

In the New Testament, Jesus gives two commands:

1. “Follow me.”

2. “Go and sin no more.”

While there are other commands that are more important (i.e. love the lord God with all of your heart), and these are not mutually exclusive commands, I feel as though Christians tend to have a leaning towards one or the other in their spiritual walk.  This leads to a heavy influence on relationships and how we tend to encourage one another in our pursuit of God.

I constantly see this as I work with my youth group.  For the most part, my guys are all good kids.  None of them are openly rebellious or kids that are disrespectful.  They are reaching a point however, where they are realizing the logic their parent’s fed them (i.e. a relationship with God is doing what is right) isn’t panning out.  They are doing what is right but deep down don’t feel as though they really know and experience God.

Perhaps it is only me, but I know I experience God the most through my own screw ups, failures, and struggles.  I know I can’t make it through this life on my own and so the deep grace and mercy of God is really the only I have to hold onto.  Somedays I remember that, other days I don’t.

I wish the church might start leaning more towards the importance of following Jesus, rather than doing what is right.  Usually when you begin following Christ, your actions are also transformed.  Attempting to do what is right and not sin usually only leads to a point of disappointment as we repeatedly fail.

Girls Must Be Bored or Getting Really Desperate

I remember towards the later half of college and the years following, it seemed like everybody and their mom was trying to set me up with someone they knew.  Especially since for some reason moms really like me, I was constantly being told about someone’s daughter, niece or friends that would be absolutely perfect for me.  As you can imagine, little did they know…

I am not sure exactly when it happened but around the time I hit 25 or 26, all of that suddenly stopped.  I honestly feel as though for the last two or three years I was not approached at all by someone making an attempt to pair me up with someone.  Obviously I still had a plethora of comments about the need for me to get married but perhaps due to the vagabond lifestyle or the non-career mentality, it was no longer a common agenda for those around me to play matchmaker with me.

Three months ago, either the stars aligned to cast a special light on me, the unusually warm winter is causing everyone to mistake the season to be the love-lusted spring, or now that I have a “respectable” job… the whole process has kicked in again.  It has been so strange how many people have approached me lately.  Not only have there been attempts at people playing matchmaker, but I have had girls I knew back in college even contact me suggesting we get coffee.  I simply don’t get it.  These are girls I haven’t spoken to or seen in over 6 years.

I recently learned that at a local baby shower all the women got into a conversation about how hard it is to find a good single Christian man. Not only one, but two ladies whom I don’t even know brought my name up.  As a result, my coworker, who was at the shower, is now trying to set up double dates with me and whoever the heck they are trying to help move onto the necessary stage of life in the Christian world.  What is going on?

I am excellent at talking my way around these conversations, however at this point it is almost assumed by people that I would jump on any opportunity to meet a possible future mate.  People aren’t able to grasp why I do not date and so at least to me, it has got to be blatantly obvious to everyone I am probably gay.  With the way people have been pressuring me to date again lately, I am seriously considering coming out to everyone just to end the hassle.  I am isolated as it is and all of my close friends know anyway, so it wouldn’t really matter a whole lot.  I think it I wasn’t working with the youth group at my church, I would definitely consider it.  Anyone have any creative responses for me to give?

My friend and I are joking now that when people tell me they have someone special they know, I should simply respond, “Is he a dude?”  I am sure that the conversation would end pretty quick at that point.

Dare to Hope

I was chatting with a friend recently and she asked what my ideal 2014 would be.  I listed off my usual desires regarding community, friendship, a place to live and ultimately that I would be able to continue to trust God regardless of my circumstances.  As I was contemplating my life this coming year, I really don’t have a whole lot of reason to be hopeful for good to happen to me.  I already know some of the difficult moments I am going to have to face, such as finding a roommate and moving, my best friends leaving the state and the other getting married.  I don’t look forward to 2014.  As I was speaking to my friend, I couldn’t help but feel as though this year I am going to have to dare to hope.  I still believe in God.  Though I am wrestling a lot with my view of God as my Father, I know that He does care for me.  Regardless of what I am going through, if I were to hold onto the truths I know from scripture, God has a plan for me, He cares for me deeply and all that I am going through cannot be for nothing. 

So I must dare to hope.  For me to hope for good in 2014 is truly believing something better will happen beyond my personal circumstances.  I cannot see such good in my near future at all at this point.  Despite everything, God will still allow me to see Him in the midst of everything and I will know that He is still good.  

I have this image of me underwater, struggling for air.  While it may be excruciating, I know eventually my head will rise above the surface and I will be able to take the necessary gasp.  I hope that I reach the surface soon…

 

Do I Lie?

My current roommate is getting married soon and as a result I am back to the painful task of finding a new roommate or a new place to live.  With the disconnection that I have been experiencing added with the fact that pretty much everyone I know is already married, finding a roommate seems to be a nearly impossible task.  As I have been looking around online for apartments, I decided to check out the roommate-finder websites as well.  As I set up a basic profile to be able to search through the list of other individuals looking for roommates, I quickly realized that most guys looking for roommates explicitly list that they are only interested in straight men for roommates.  So what do I do? I am gay. I am not pursuing any form of a gay relationship. I recognize that most guys wouldn’t even know I was gay unless I tell them.  Do I lie or simply omit the very minor detail that I am gay?

At this point I am tempted to find a small place for my self, pay the ridiculous $1100+ for a one bedroom and attempt to live alone for the first time.  I know living alone is not the healthiest option for me.  At the same time, I know in the inevitable future I will be living on my own so perhaps now is the time to tackle this and learn to adapt.

A New Year, Unfortunately Not A New Beginning

I was really glad to be over with 2013.  Obviously both good and bad happened through out the year, but I was done with it by the end.  Sadly, despite the year changing always seems to create a mental illusion that I am getting to step through fresh doors into new opportunities, changes, and a clean state, the reality is that today started off exactly where I left it yesterday in 2013.

It is  hard for me to find hope anymore.

With every year, I am actually surprised at how much more difficult my circumstance become and in the end I feel ridiculous for allowing myself to be caught off guard.  That is the scary thing about hope; when you hope, you allow yourself to be vulnerable to being let down as well.

While I hate to start off 2014 as a Debbie Downer, the reality is  I am more isolated, alone, and lonely than I have ever been in my life.  I feel helpless to my situation.  My efforts to find friendship and community has left me hanging dry, bitter towards the church, and somewhat depressed.  The desire to give up on the celibate Christian life is stronger than ever.  While I have not gone there in action, I know my mind has been dwelling there for quite some time now.

God I need you now, more than ever.