To be Needy in the Church

I regularly face the need to curb my expectations of what it means to be the church. In my own neediness, I desire so much more from the body of Christ and yet I constantly feel others implying that I am the problem, not the church. As a result, the last few years have been a journey of trying to lower my neediness and change my attitude. I haven’t let others in and I have kept my neediness as much as possible to myself or the few friends who have committed to walking along side me. Deep down though, despite all efforts to convince myself that I am the one needing to change, I cannot help but feel the conviction that the body of Christ is failing.

The implications of this can’t only hit someone like me dealing with SSA but it must also hit so many other individuals who are in difficult, lonely or isolated circumstances. I recently finished the book “Is God Anti-Gay” by Sam Allberry and though I wasn’t too impressed with the majority of the book (it was pretty basic), his commentary on the church had a few good points. Allberry writes regarding the church,

Key to our witness and credibility… is the quality of life together, and the clarity of our message… With that gospel clarity needs to come relational credibility. The New Testament often connects the effectiveness of our witness with the genuineness of our love for one another.

Allberry also writes specifically about the church’s response to those who come out as being gay stating,

We need to love them more than their gay friends do, and we need to love them more than they love their homosexuality. Only then can we begin to point to the greater love that God has for them.

I walk in and out of church not truly feeling actively loved by anyone. I think about how week to week I can go without a single person telling me “I love you” let alone putting that into actions. While I know that many individuals “love” me, without a tangible reminder and experience, my self image, self esteem and self worth are never reinforced.

I’m afraid to show how needy I really am. I am scared to let others know that deep down I just wish someone would sit next to me, be present, put their arm around me and let me know that they are there… that I am not fighting alone. I hate that I desperately desire physical contact since I can go weeks without even a simple hug. I need reminders that people actually care and love me. Even greater, I need people to bring me back to the truth that God loves me. I know myself, my short comings, my continual failures and I cannot help but feel unloveable. Sometimes I need the church to be the hands and feet of God, to pull me back in when I want to walk away and to walk alongside me on this journey that will most likely be a life long struggle.

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.

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?

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.  

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.

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.