The Daily KOS (thanks for the link, Sarah), has a whole list of wacky readers’ comments about the first days of gay marriages in Iowa. These three jumped out at me:
“straight people don’t want gays to be promiscuous but they don’t want them in a legal committed relationship either…”
Somebody else wrote: “That’s because they don’t want us to exist. Their ideal world doesn’t have gay people in it at all – we’ve all been exterminated. Fortunately, cooler heads are prevailing on this issue. Mostly. “
And somebody else replied: “For people who don’t want us to exist… they certainly think about us a lot.”
They certainly do! The reactionary movement coming from the (mostly Religious) Right seems obsessed with us! For example, the blog at Gay Christian Movement Watch (“Because God has called us to holiness”) is an extensive and persistent rant about homosexuality. The “About” page states that it is “a cutting edge Christian ministry whose mission is to monitor, analyze and publish (MAP) the activities, leaders and public theological positions of the ‘gay christian movement.’”
To me, it may be the cutting edge of a very dull knife.
The blog and other materials there seem to be the work of one man, an African-American in the Atlanta area who touts his escape from homosexuality. He markets his e-book this way: “a man who lived to tell, Touching A Dead Man traces the path of a young boy’s life through childhood rejection, growing up black and COGIC and the pain of his darkest secret: homosexuality. With courage, the book paints a moving portrait of life at its best and worst: sexual violence, longing for fatherly relationship and eventual self destructive living as a gay man.”
Acronym: Church of God in Christ, a Pentecostal holiness movement – pretty serious, no-wiggle-room, don’t-screw-up, guilt-rich theology. Yep, that would be a tough place to grow up gay.
Can somebody help DL Foster with the rest? It seems he is a self-made poster child for the ex-gay ministry crowd. I certainly empathize with the other pains and sorrows he may have experienced: childhood rejection, growing up black (in our racist society), sexual violence, longing for fatherly relationship and eventual self destructive living.
But, excuse me, Rev. Foster, none of that stuff is inextricably or directly linked to being gay or lesbian (or bisexual or transgender) and none of it is linked to being LGBT/Christian. I haven’t written my book, yet, but I can share here that I didn’t grow up with childhood rejection. I am of European not African extraction (but I am of parentage tainted enough that Hitler would have hunted me down). I have never been a victim or perpetrator of sexual violence. My relationship with my father was just fine, and with God even better. And I haven’t gone through any self-destructive living, probably because I didn’t have a moralizing, guilt-inducing church to teach me to hate myself, doubt my own good judgment, and obsess about whether I would burn in hell for having my mostly-vanilla flavored hopes and desires to love someone and be loved in return.
Instead of all Foster’s drama, I remained steadfast with Christ, in a church (Lutheran) that totally ignored all sexuality when I was a child, was terrified of it when I was a college student, and has been dancing around homosexuality ever since. I discerned that I was gay (did not choose to be) while in seminary, respectfully stayed in my closet for more than a dozen years, came out gradually, avoided drugs and promiscuity, and met my life partner with whom I am still closer than ever more than three decades later.
“Look! Oh my God, no! There’s another gay Christian!! I can’t believe it!”
So the implied argument of this minister, who is obsessed with keeping a “watch” on the Gay Christian Movement, is that living the homosexual life is a disaster, which he characterizes as that of a “dead man.” I can’t speak for him, but I can speak for my homosexual life: I have grown emotionally and spiritually. I have found incredible strength, character, love and compassion from all kinds of LGBT people, both religious and not religious, which I believe to be the work of God’s spirit active in our world. I believe that my chance meeting the man with whom I have shared my life, home, and faith was truly a gift from God. And I know, as the Gospel clearly says over and over, that God’s love has been here for me, and for countless Lesbian/gay, bisexual and transgender Christians, all along even if we didn’t notice it. I know that we are justified, reconciled, or “saved” not by our good works or by painful or melodramatic episodes of repentance, nor by total sexual abstinence, nor by profound guilt or shame, nor by self-loathing, nor by trying to change our orientation, but only by the grace of God. I will stand by what I read in the New Testament:
“For by grace you have been saved through faith; and this is not your own doing, it is the gift of God— not because of works, lest anyone should boast. . . . But now in Christ Jesus you who once were far off have been brought near in the blood of Christ. For he is our peace, who has made us both one, and has broken down the dividing wall of hostility, by abolishing in his flesh the law of commandments and ordinance, that he might create in himself one new man in place of the two, so making peace, and might reconcile us both to God in one body through the cross, thus bringing the hostility to an end.” Ephesians 2:8–9, 13–16
Here’s the core of the “Gay Christian Movement” —and let me paraphrase that passage:
- We claim this grace as being given to us, too, as it is to all Christians and all other human beings.
- It is not our doing—not the accomplishment of any Christian— that we are loved by God for Christ’s sake. So there is no boasting about making the “right” moral choice of heterosexuality (because we know perfectly well that you can’t choose to be heterosexual any more than you can choose to be Lesbian/gay, bisexual or transgender; one can only choose to make peace with our sexuality as one of God’s gifts in our life).
- Heterosexual Christians, especially right-wing conservative ones, may think that we who are not heterosexual are “far off”—wandered, lost, estranged—but we, like they, have been brought near to God. Do you get that? We don’t approach God. God comes our direction in Christ, and brings us near.
- And this is accomplished not through our efforts or our self-denial or self-doubt or self-hatred, but through Christ.
- Many ultra-conservative voices, like Rev. Foster, insist there is a “culture war” ( a thinly veiled view of a religious war, an Armageddon) going on which they must win. But, hello!, Christ is our peace. It’s a done deal. Christ has already ended the culture/religious war for us, making all Christians one.
- He has broken down the dividing wall of hostility, so don’t even try to put up another one, okay?
- How did he do this? By abolishing this constant appeal to commandments and ordinances (they only appeal to the commandments and ordinances which they cherry-pick out of the Bible because they self-righteously think they are obeying all those things but we aren’t!).
- There is one new humanity now, folks, not just one new Christianity: there is one new humanity because God, in Christ, unilaterally decided to accept us, love us, and be reconciled with all of us, and bring all this stupid animosity and hostility to an end. The so-called culture war ended on the Cross!
In other words, Reverend, get over it. There are thousands, millions, countless LGBT Christians out there who keep faith with God even while you continue to “watch” what we’re up to! There are countless numbers of us out there who praise God, love Jesus, and do what he commands us to do: love one another, show compassion and mercy, feed the hungry, visit the sick, welcome the homeless, and go to those in prison. While you are busy “watching” what we’re up to, we simply try to do what Jesus would do.
And when it comes to the Christian lifestyle (yes, that is a lifestyle! a choice!), it really doesn’t matter which gender someone happens to be capable of loving. There is no commandment to “get heterosexual,” Rev. Foster. And while you may think we are called to holiness, I know we are called to faithfulness. We are not justified by any feeble version of “holiness,” yours or ours. We live by grace alone!
—Pastor Dan Hooper, Los Angeles