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.

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.

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.  

Your Wife Breathes Fire That God Can’t

I have heard the same comment several times now from many of my married friends.  When asked about their struggle with porn and masturbation now that they are married, they all pretty much have said “it has become a lot easier, especially since the ramifications are much greater since it can now hurt someone else.”  I understand that once you are married and having sex, the temptation isn’t nearly as bad.  I also recognize that not wanting to hurt one’s spouse is a important reason to stay true to one’s marriage and not look at porn.  The part that bothers me is this…  Why has a spouse been able to light a fire under your ass that your relationship with God never could?

Every time I hear this response from my friends, I can’t help but feel as though their relationship with their wife has a higher impact on their life than God ever did.  Especially when such comments are followed by telling me that I wouldn’t understand since I am not committed to a spouse, I really feel as though people’s priorities are not in the right order.  Why should a man’s desire to not disappoint their wife ever be more impactful than the desire to pursue and please God?  I am excited for my friends and the fact that they are making headway in their struggle with lust.  None of them are so naive to think that marriage is the solution either.  It has always seemed slightly ironic what a man is willing to do for a woman… but not for God.

Did you love them?

When we die and stand before God, I presume we will be asked what we did with our time spent on earth.  I imagine many Christians proudly explaining to God how they fervently worked to preserved the sanctity of marriage from the perverted corruption of the homosexuals.

Somehow, I feel like God’s simple response will be… “But did you love them?”

Reject, Receive, or Redeem

This morning I was mediating a bit on the Christian’s response to homosexuality.  The blogs, news, and politics are chalk full of opinions and debate.   Somehow I feel as though, we Christians are missing the point.  We are yelling louder than we are listening. In the past, I have heard the “Reject, Receive, and Redeem” model used before regarding cultural shifts that seem to go against common Biblical understanding.  While this is simplified (I am fully aware of that), here are a few thoughts using that model…

Reject, Receive, or Redeem:

1. Reject: We can state that anything related to homosexuality is a sin.  Any attraction, behavior, or product stemming from homosexuality is inherently wrong.  The church should remain pure and holy by removing itself by completely rejecting all things homosexual.

2. Receive:  We can accept it with open arms.  If someone realizes they are gay, they should take pride in that and accept it as who they are and were created to be.  Our religious views need to continue to be molded as culture changes.

3. Redeem:  We can recognize that all are broken and yet God has a plan of redemption within our brokenness.  As vessels and ambassadors of Chist here on earth, the church can focus their attention more on their role to redeem those who have a same sex attraction with eternity in mind, rather than channeling their efforts to fight a losing, earthly battle against a fallen world/culture.

I find the question that needs to be asked is what does it tangibly look like for the church to make an effort to redeem the issue and the people dealing with homosexuality?

 

My Pride Before God

Never in the Bible is pride mentioned as part of the armor of God, and yet more often then not, it is the primary defense of most Christian men.  While money may be the root of many evils, in reality it can be said that all sins stem from pride.  Pride is the reason we protect ourselves.  It is the source for our selfishness.  It is the reason we cannot be open with one another and live transparent lives.

For me, pride is the reason I feel inadequate amongst my peers.  It is why my time of unemployment is viewed as a shameful period, rather than a time of refinement where God is preparing me for my next step.  Pride is the reason why I am so vain and desire what others have.  Pride is the reason why I feel the need to protect myself rather than trusting in God to do His work in and through me.  Pride restricts me from living life freely and abundantly.  My pride is the reason why I live life for the approval and validation from others instead rather than letting my identity be built upon how Christ views me.

All seven of the capital vices stem from pride.  While the church focuses and judges individuals on outward sins such as homosexuality, divorce, adultery, pornography, and lust, rarely do we hear anyone being called out due to their pride.  It is a shame, particularly since pride is usually the reason why I try to replace God in my life and instead rely upon my self.  Oh, how foolish I can be.

Dumb things Christians say…

I have told my story to only a handfull of  people.  Every time I tell my story, there is always the fear of the individuals reactions.  While I haven’t had any major blow ups, complete condemnations, or long term ostracizing, I have still heard plenty of dumb responses from many Christians.  So here is a short list of MY experiences of people’s response or just comments on homosexuality in general.

1.  Maybe God gave you the gift of celibacy?

2.  Can I pray for you? (… and proceed to try to cast a demon out of me.)

3.  You know, you don’t really need to be attracted to girls… just find one girl you are attracted to.

4.  Are you attracted to girls at all? (a.k.a. is there any hope that you aren’t gay?)

5.  Well, your attraction is still there so clearly you must not be doing the right thing.

6.  I heard that God has healed others, maybe you just need to pray more.

7.  All gay people choose to be attracted to and act out with the same sex; they can all burn in hell for all I care.

Job Fail

Unfortunately, I found out today that I did not get the job I interviewed for on Monday.  Obviously I am disappointed hearing the news.  I was truly hoping to land that job, but I guess God has got something else planned for me.

More than anything though, I am getting very tired of my life.  It is hard to wake up every morning and look forward to a day of sitting in front of a computer screen, hoping to use it to find a job instead of screwing up and wasting my time looking at s*** on the internet.  I wish I could figure out a way to do something useful with my time, but it is definitely difficult.  The loneliness is starting to kick in as well.  There are definitely some days where I end up not interacting with anyone or leaving my building.  I have got to do something with myself before I turn into one pathetic mess (or perhaps I have already reached that point).

I am trying my best to keep a schedule and do what I can to stay productive.  I wake up, go for a run, eat breakfast, spend an hour doing devotions and then after that it all depends on the day.  The days that I make a check list of things to get done, I usually do better than the days that I don’t.

Trusting God right now is getting really tough.  I want to believe that He has something lined up for me in this life.  I am completely willing to do whatever He calls me to, but at this point still feels like I am just waiting.  I hate waiting…

I’m Going To Hug You.

My friend Will has known about my struggle with homosexuality for four and a half years now.  He was the first friend that I opened up to and since then he has walked faithfully with me on this journey.  I cannot express how much his friendship means to me and how much I appreciate the grace and love he has shown me over the years.

Our relationship has not been without challenges.  While I knew that Will would always be there for me, for almost four years I never felt as though he was able to grasp what I was going through or the magnitude of my struggle.  Slowly our relationship became strained as he met a girl, got married, and moved forward in life.  While I was overseas, I prayed for months asking God to rekindle and develop a new depth in our friendship.  Upon returning, I had just finished reading A Bigger World Yet by Tim Timmerman, a book which I believe is the best and most impactful out of the books on same sex attraction.  Not only does the book go into the struggle and needs of the individual struggling with S.S.A., but it also speaks to the church and the role that the church should be playing to provide community, hope, and love.  I decided to pass the book on to Will to see what he thought.

Initially I was scared about how Will would respond to the book.  It is in a sense, an open confession of the needs and insecurities of those who struggle with S.S.A.  As much as I have been honest and vulnerable with him, there were certain needs or feelings that I would never feel comfortable expressing.  For instance, despite my need and desire for physical touch, there was no way I could share that with a straight guy.  However insight from the book triggered the biggest turn in our relationship and and God has used it to bring our friendship to a new level of depth and understanding.  By describing the life of one who struggles with S.S.A. so clearly and the impact that a straight man can have on that person, Will finally was able to recognize and comprehend all that I had been trying to explain for the past four years.

Right now we are at a place where we both are trying to figure out how this looks for Will to walk this journey with me.  As he is trying to he apart of my life, I am having to learn to set aside my own pride and be open about my thoughts, feelings and needs.  It has been real hard and I have a lot to learn still.  As we met tonight, one of the things we talked about was physical touch and how important it can be used to express acceptance and love.  Physical touch has never been apart of our friendship, and in as much as I desire it, I don’t want anything forced.  It would only make things awkward.  Furthermore, even while he is already aware of my need, it is still a struggle to actually admit such feelings.  Despite my pride, he spoke a lot of truth into me and reassured me that no matter how awkward it may be, he was willing to walk with me through all of this.

As we prepared to go our separate ways, he came up to me and just told me  “I’m going to hug you and from now on when we meet, we are going to hug.”  That simple action meant so much to me.  While I am still in the process of trying to understand how others can walk this journey with me, I think the bottom line is I really appreciate when others take initiative.  I can always share my needs and others can do their best to help out, but for him to step out and just let me know that he cares had a huge impact on me.