Caught in the Middle

My favorite online comment this week has been the observation that everyone’s news feed looks like a Skittles factory went to war with the Confederates. As the decision was made by the Supreme Court, all of a sudden the issue of same sex marriage has erupted all over the place and as a “side B” Christian, I feel caught in the cross fire.

Deep down it is painful to see how many individual’s comments are not simply regarding the ruling on same sex marriage, however they are yet again strong opinions directed towards anyone in the LGBTQ community. Sometimes I see glimpses of grace shown, but more often there seems to be a mentality that all hell has broken loose in this country and the gays are to blame.

As much as it is painful to see many hurtful comments from Christians, I have also been thrown off a bit by many Christians who were eager to throw on the rainbow filter on their profile and express their support for the “side A” view. I think it saddens me because as I view each of those individuals, I realize that I wouldn’t have their support in the decision I have made to live my life celibate. In their eyes it is foolish to make God a priority over my own feelings or attractions. They are quick to elevate the individual and express their viewpoint in how conservative Christians are hypocritical, contradictory and archaic in their view of scripture. I realize that I could never expect any of them to walk alongside me, supportive and understanding of the choice I have made. All of this leaves me further isolated.

There is a bit of anxiety building up in me as I see the polarization of the issue expanding into the church. I feel as though many of us who are actually struggling to live a pure and holy life with same sex attractions are going to be completely overlooked. We are becoming the unicorns of society, as it becomes harder and harder to maintain the “side B” view and lifestyle. It worries me that the church is going to get lost in the cultural battle and never recognize the true ministry that needs to exist in its own body. Christopher Yuan recently stated that the issue of homosexuality cannot even begin to be discussed in the church until the church recognizes a true biblical view of singleness. One of the major arguments for the Supreme Court decision rested in how a gay individual’s “hope is not to be condemned to live in loneliness, excluded from one of civilization’s oldest institutions.” I know that more and more, the life of a single individual is only identified as one of isolation and loneliness because the church has strayed so far from the original intent of the body of Christ. The church has yet to offer a satisfactory solution and until they do, it only makes sense that an individual in the LGBTQ community would want marriage as an equal right.

When We Notice the Dirt

“It is when we notice the dirt that God is most present in us; it is the very sign of His presence.” -C.S. Lewis

Our pastor used this quote at church this morning and coming from experiences I had the previous night, I felt as though I was covered from head to toe in shit. I feel as though I have never had an issue of seeing the sin in my life. It has always been there. If the pursuit of my same sex desires is sin, then on a daily basis I fall. Maybe God is present more than I realize, but lately I just feel dirty.

I was up till 2 in the morning trying to fill the void in my life through video chatting with other guys. It is disgusting how low I stoop and the psychology behind how all the men interact is deplorable. Yet, time after time I come back because it is the only interaction I have where I am desired by someone. I go from one guy to the next, both parties hoping to score someone who is out of our league and stooping to whatever pathetic behavior is required to keep them on before they ditch me in their search for their ideal person. Occasionally I get a guy who I am not that attracted to but he knows I’m better looking so her tries really hard and will do whatever I tell him. The person I become at that point is so far from who I really am…

The isolation has reached the point where I hit a weekend and I honestly have no one to call or hang out with… week after week go by where I am living my own life and no one is there checking to see how I am or to share my life in some form or another. I am still serving at my church but the power of the gospel is so far from reality in my life that I feel like a hypocrite trying to share about Christ when the power of the Holy Spirit, the community of the church body and the redemption from sin seem non-existent for me. There is no way in hell I would want to invite anyone to church because I wouldn’t want anyone else to have to deal with the miserable experiences I have had trying to get connected. Unless they were a married couple… then come to church, you will fit in great and I am sure you will be invited over to dinner immediately.

Our pastor spoke this morning on how we need to engage the gospel not by focusing always on what we need to do but continually focus on what Christ as done. I’m not throwing in the towel yet. While I have pretty much given up on the church body, I am still praying that Christ my Savior will be enough for me right now. My eyes continue to turn to the shit that is all over my body and trying to figure out how to clean my self up. I’m going to have to come before Christ and pray that he can still embrace me, as filthy and disgusting as I am.

The Self-Defeating Sexualization of Gay and Same-Sex Attracted Christians

Check out the full blog.

This sexualization harms us (and our churches) in a lot of ways.

It makes gay or same-sex attracted people afraid of intimacy, because every close relationship with someone of the same sex could be a temptation to sexual sin. It leads us to doubt God’s love for us, because we’re set apart from other Christians, treated as eternal outsiders no matter how much we strive to prove ourselves. (It can make our relationship with God and with the church become all about proving ourselves, or proving our chastity, rather than helping us trust that God and church are there for us when we fail.) It can lead us to ignore other sins and temptations we experience, such as temptations to despair or to self-righteousness.

It reduces us to our sexuality, which is dehumanizing.

via The Self-Defeating Sexualization of Gay and Same-Sex Attracted Christians.

Old and Alone

I went again to the support group this past weekend and myself and one other gentleman seemed to have been the first to arrive.  The priest mentioned that we weren’t the first but another individual had accidentally come an hour early because he had mistaken the time due to daylight saving time.

Daylight saving was a week ago.

This individual who is probably in his eighties, had gone an entire week living life an hour off because he was so isolate and unaware of the time change.  His interactions with others were so limited that there never was a need to recognize that he was off until a week had passed.  Later on during our time of sharing, the same individual mentioned how “sometimes when you get old, you wonder if anyone loves you anymore”.  These two incidences were absolutely crushing.

I joined this group in hopes of hearing older individuals who had learned how to live life well.  Sadly I am seeing and hearing stories about how this is not the case.  For many of the men, the only community they have is with other men dealing with SSA.  While it is good that they find some form of community amongst each other, seeing their lives, it makes me see such a huge void that the church needs to see.

What Hope?

I have had to do a lot of listening lately.  With my community of close friends all moving away, I no longer have the avenues where I am able to be fully authentic.  In many ways it can be rather stifling to constantly filter my thoughts and actions from those around me.  At the men’s bible study I attend every week, the issue of how to deal with gay Christians has come up fairly frequently.  While I try to challenge everyone’s thoughts, since they do not know about my SSA, I pretty much sit and have to hear their opinions.  It can be pretty painful and discouraging.

It is easier for these men to speak about adult Christians who are now choosing to live our their gay identity, because in their minds they capable human beings and as adults, are not viewed as having relational needs that need to be met.  Most married individuals don’t grasp the life of a single person and the loneliness that results.  Without seeing these basic needs, they only assume that living a celibate life is the obvious answer and it is a simple choice of obedience.

I am still waiting to hear a church that provides hope for the gay Christian or Christian with SSA (whichever wording you need to hear to feel comfortable).  I try to consider what I would tell to my 13 year old self, around the time where I was just realizing that I could possibly be gay.  While it feels justifiable to many to judge an adult and their actions, a 13 year old, who without choosing realizes that he is attracted to men is in a different place.  What message can the church give them in terms of the timeline for their life?

If I had to speak to myself at that age, all I can say is that it is only going to get harder.  You will only get more isolated, you will live without being known and all you can do is hope to hold on to your faith even though the temptation to experience relationship constantly feels overwhelming.  I am only 30 and I never thought life would be this difficult this early.

Typical kids are told somewhat of a timeline for their life with the stages that they should eventually experience.  You graduate from high school, then college, you date, you get married, you establish yourself in a career, you have kids, you live a life as a parent for a while, you become grandparents, you retire so to enjoy your family and all you worked for, then you die.  For a person with SSA, with all stages of life related to family being removed, outside of career there isn’t much to expect.

I recently started going to a Catholic support group in my area (not because I am Catholic, but it is one of the only areas of support close by).  Part of my desire was to hear from older men dealing with SSA and how they are getting to experience life with hope.  Sadly, most of them are still struggling even at their old age.  They don’t speak a life of hope, excitement, fulfillment or expectancy.  Rather the only thing they can hope is to hold on to Christ and remain obedient despite the daily temptations and the feelings of isolation and loneliness.

Until the church can speak of a hope and a life that isn’t merely survival, I feel as though the options for a gay Christian is either change your theology by convincing yourself that the side A is actually a Biblical option or prepare for a long life alone.  I cannot allow my theology to be changed by my experience, but the option I am living now is so difficult.

I have hope for eternity but I don’t have hope for tomorrow.  I dread the coming years and how the life of obedience will only get more difficult.  I am tired, weary and the burden is extremely heavy.  The promise of Jesus in Matthew 11:30 seems far and distant.

CAN I BE DONE AT 30?

I woke up this morning and after a string of days of falling to temptations, I simply wanted to be done.  I don’t mean this in a suicidal sort of way, but more in the way of I am over this life.  I am tired, so tired.  I don’t feel as though I have been refreshed in a long time.  I try to grab hold of any little bit of hope and joy I encounter, but it doesn’t seem to be enough.  I just wouldn’t mind being done with life… God can’t you show me mercy and take me now?

I laugh at myself knowing how pathetic I sound.  In my low moments, it allows me realign my thoughts and be thankful that God is still using me to impact others.  The fact that I can have any positive impact at all really only is because of God.  I know myself.  I don’t like myself and the things I do.

This morning I decided to spend an extended amount of time in the Word.  I know that being still and quiet is important for me.  Thankfully it was a really good time with God.  Most of the time was spent meditating on Psalms 107.  The line that stuck with me the most was “He satisfies the longing soul”.  I think the one thing any of us who struggle with SSA could agree with is that there seems to be a perpetual longing of the soul.  On a good day, that longing is directed towards God, while on my not-so-good days that longing leads me to try to find fulfillment in relationship.  I am a needy person and that can be a curse and a blessing.  I am fulling away of the void in my life.  I can’t remain still and not try to fulfill it.  It is so difficult though to stay on track and look to God day in and day out.  He is suppose to satisfy my longing soul and somehow I don’t feel satisfied.  What am I missing?  I know God is providing and yet I am off track unable to experience His provision fully.

Confessions

I just came back to this blog and saw the last time I posted.  A lot has gone on since then.  A lot that I am ashamed of…

I am not well these days.  I am not handling life in a way that I am proud of and at the core of it all, I don’t see the hope that I need to have in order to continue to push for the changes that need to be made.  With every year, I am shocked at how intense my situation becomes and never in my wildest dreams did I expect to be dealing with the situation I am in at the age of 29.  I never thought I would be completely alone.  I never thought that it would be nearly impossible to find a roommate.  I never thought that church would seem so isolating.  I never thought I would sit on a Friday night with no one nearby to call to hang out… or to have to face Saturday with nothing on my schedule.

The weekends are seriously the worst for me.  If I am lucky, I get through Friday night without doing anything stupid.  At best, I binge watch several hours of Netflix and somehow stay away from drinking at all.  However, by the time I face Saturday and I pretty much have exhausted my self-control, usually with a couple beers in, my walls fall and I am completely vulnerable.  More often then not, I make stupid choices online or even just letting my mind wander back to a previous relationship that I want to be involved in so desperately.  I simply don’t want to be alone.

What sucks is that after every Saturday comes Sunday.  I still go to church.  I feel dirty and ashamed because I failed yet again.  I hate the fact that I face the weekend alone and somehow God doesn’t seem to be enough.  The way the church, books, and people seem to put it is that I should be able to sit alone at my apartment and be completely fulfilled in who Christ is and not fall apart.  I wish that were true…

My work seems to be my only savior.  It keeps me from having to face the reality of my situation.  Yet, somehow God has forced me to step back from my work and it is killing me.  Back in August, due to my injury, I was forced to sit out for several weeks.  Now, it seems as though I am going to be dealing with jury duty for the next 3 weeks unless by some miracle I get released from the case on Monday.

So yeah, I’m hurting.  It’s Friday night and thankfully I haven’t messed up yet.  I pray tomorrow I experience God’s mercy in a huge and overwhelming way.  I need it, I can’t do this alone. I can’t fix this. I can’t fix me.

Getting Desperate

I have survived a week and it hasn’t been easy.  As I mentioned previously, getting slapped in the face with the reality of how isolated I am has been painful and eye-opening.  With almost no presence of friends or community showing up during this time, I realize that I cannot remain in my current state.  Furthermore, sitting alone on the couch for a week straight doing nothing has led to all of the temptations in my life to roar up.  Ultimately, I have failed in that area as well.  It isn’t like I haven’t spent time in the word or prayer either… I have tried to spend a significant amount of time every morning with God.  However, usually by the afternoon or evening, I am so desperate for some sort of connection that I inevitably give in.  

Clearly, I am unable to withstand sin on my own.  I have a lot of years left in me and the temptations and desire for connection with others is only going to get stronger.  Who knows how long I can last doing this whole celibate, gay Christian thing.  

Attempts to speak to my pastors at church have all failed in the past, but I am thinking I am going to have to have another go at it with them.  Somehow if I do not change my circumstances, I am will not going to see any progress in my life, development of community, and overcoming sin.  The last time I spoke with the elders, I made an attempt to get them to understand my situation, to grasp what it was like as a celibate, gay Christian, and to hopefully get them to walk alongside me in this journey.  I failed completely on all three points.  This time I feel like I am needing to go in simply asking for help.  They probably will never grasp where I am at, but hopefully they can help me find a new living situation and somehow connect me to more people.  

I need to learn to develop community even with people who are completely incapable of grasping my situation.  Up till now, even in friendships, if someone wasn’t able to reach some form of empathy and understanding, it was basically impossible to share where I am at in life.  Those friendships for the most part haven’t lasted.  I don’t know how to share my life with others who have no ability to take in what I say and be able to comprehend, discern and speak into my life in a useful manner.  After this experience, I am going to need to learn how to… even if it isn’t a deep form of community, or I don’t even share my true story, I have to start establishing more relationships with those around me.  

Set Back or Opportunity

I recently got injured and am now stuck on a couch for two weeks, having to keep my foot elevated and only able to get around on crutches.  This injury happened in the middle of two of the most busy weeks of the year for me and as a result all my plans are now irrelevant.  All I can do now is sit.

This experience has forced me to face many questions in my life that I have been dreading such as:  If I ever got into an emergency would people be there? If I am unable to be productive, do I view myself any less?  Do I have the self-control to face two weeks on my own?  Is God truly enough when it is only Him and me.

I don’t know how I am going to get through the next two weeks doing nothing.  So far, it looks like I will be spending an unhealthy amount of time on the couch, alone.  I know this is not a good situation for me. 

Somehow I want to view the next to weeks knowing that it is full of opportunity not only for my own self but for God to do his work.  I know that having this time alone is important because God can speak to me much more in the silence.  I need to learn how to not constantly turn to others in the midst of this time.  Texts, social media, and even simply posting on here is a cry for connection.  How do I learn to let God take the place of these needs?

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?