Why We Don’t Need Dan Savage

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Quick Disclaimer: The views expressed in this post are not affiliated with Andrew Marin or the Marin Foundation. These are expressly my own words.

 

The other day, popular Gay Rights advocate Dan Savage, wrote a review of Jeff Chu’s book in the New York Times, but, as in everything that Dan Savage does, he made it primarily about himself.

 

Savage is an atheist with an incredibly myopic view of Christianity. In his eyes, every denomination in America is best friends with the Westboro Baptists. Who is to say what brought him to this place of atheism? (although, there are a lot of likely reasons, including Fundamentalist Christians). Someone who is NOT a fundamentalist Christian, someone I consider a good friend, Andrew Marin, was one of the targets of Savage’s awful awful review of Chu’s book. His ongoing hatred for Andrew and the Marin Foundation reached a new low in this article, a grossly inaccurate article.

 

He [Chu] gives an approving nod to the sneakily homophobic Marin Foundation, an evangelical group that shows up at gay pride parades holding signs that say, “We’re sorry!” and offering hugs to paradegoers who have been harmed by religion. But Andrew Marin, the group’s founder and public face, has urged his followers to target Christian teenagers struggling with “same-sex attraction” because they’re easier to talk out of being gay. Marin has refused to say that gay sex isn’t a sin, and he seems to believe that gay people can change their sexual orientation. The more you learn about the Marin Foundation, the more it looks like Westboro Baptist in the drag of false contrition: God hates you — now with hugs! Chu blasts M.C.C., but Marin gets a pass.

 

K- first off, Andrew as Fred Phelps??? Savage should have already lost you with that statement. Andrew and the Marin Foundation couldn’t have more daylight between Westboro than they already do. Andrew has lived and worked in the heart of the gay community for over a decade of his life. People on his staff are gay. He goes to gay bars with his friends. I am baffled by this assertion.

 

Andrew has already explained the part about “targeting” teenagers as an error on his part. He was young, just getting started, still shaking off some of the ugly from his evangelical roots, and for years now he has advocated against ex gay therapy. But, of course, that’s not good enough for Savage. He will play and replay that clip as reason enough to hate Christians, because that is all that seems to drive him.

 

If you want to read a better explanation for why Andrew has not specifically stated whether same-sex relationships are sinful, read this blog post, or this one that I wrote awhile back.

 

In the interest of full disclosure, Savage actually has quite the reputation of being incredibly insensitive to the LGBT community… and well, everybody else.

 

(WARNING- PROFANE LANGUAGE)

 

Here’s what he said about bisexual people.

 

“I’m not saying bi guys are bad people, or they don’t make great one-night stands. Bushes, bathhouses, and sleazy gay bars are crawling with bi guys. But if a guy wants more, he’ll have an easier time getting it from another gay man.”

 

Here’s what he said about women that resist their husband’s sexual antics.

 

“There the guy was, boned for you, and he was brave enough to put his desires out there, to make himself vulnerable (which is what the ladies are always saying they want, right?), and you lobbed the ol’ “What?!?” bomb at him and made him feel like a freak. Is it any wonder that he quickly moved on to “other things” and, one would hope, better sex partners?”

 

Here’s what he said about survivors of rape.

“I’m extremely sorry that you were raped, DRARS, although your baseless accusations of rape make me doubt you when you claim to be a survivor of rape. The feminist bloggers are going to accuse me of thought crimes: If a woman says she was raped then, by God, she was raped. (Tell it to the lacrosse team.) But if my reaction to your letter is a thought crime, I can only plead entrapment: I wouldn’t have had these illegal thoughts if you hadn’t sent me such a stupid letter in the first place… Finally, DRARS, I hereby withdraw my consent for you to read Savage Love. If you continue to read my column against my will, well, we all know what word to apply to your actions.”

 

He believes racists are way less of a threat to African Americans than African-American homophobes are to gay people.

I do know this, though: I’m done pretending that the handful of racist gay white men out there—and they’re out there, and I think they’re scum—are a bigger problem for African Americans, gay and straight, than the huge numbers of homophobic African Americans are for gay Americans, whatever their color.

 

He calls asexuals secret “fags”

“I appreciate the feedback, Stephanie, and I’m sorry I offended you. But… um… I couldn’t help but think, as I read your letter, that your boyfriend is either a fool or a fag. But if it works for you guys—if a romantic relationship devoid of sexual attraction and activity works for you guys—then it works for you guys. Who am I to argue with success?”

 

Every time Savage says something like this, something stupid and insulting and offensive, it exposes himself as the hypocrite he is. He has the It Gets Better campaign, which has actually done A LOT OF GOOD nationwide in erasing homophobia. Ironically though, it is a campaign about ending bullying.

 

The It Gets Better campaign was the brain child of Savage, but, it really became its own thing. For instance, Savage is openly hostile to religion, yet there are so many contributions from churches towards the It Gets Better campaign, calling on LGBT youth to join more understanding congregations. You should really check them out, they’re quite encouraging!

 

And in the weird, wild world of Dan Savage, he is the anti-bullying king, (except, of course, when it comes to Christians of all stripes, transgender, bisexual and asexual people, women, and of course, rape victims.) He is, almost astonishingly, inconsistent with his own ethics.

 

And the worst part about all of this?

Dan Savage portrays himself as the face of LGBT America.

This militant, snarky, bully, is viewed, by the media, as the face of LGBT America.

But, he’s not.

He is an extremist.

He is an outlier.

As one gay columnist put it in Newsweek, he’s the “gay santorum”.

“This false choice has harmed LGBT people, especially young people, to no end. It has marginalized queer people of faith, stoked the fears of religious people that gay-rights advocates are opposed to religious values, and has led directly to the very bullying that Savage’s “It Gets Better” project has sought to prevent. It’s bad enough when this bullshit, if you will, comes from a religious reactionary. But for it to come from a self-appointed spokesman for the gay community is far worse. It leaves no place for a gay religious person to exist and confirms to gay kids in religious communities that there will be no place for them once they come out. Worse, it mistakenly confirms to their parents and pastors that for a child to be gay means that she or he cannot also be religious.

But the truth is that there are many LGBT people who do not regard the Bible as bullshit. They lead open, affirming, sex-positive, and religious lives in every Christian and Jewish denomination in America. That includes gay evangelicals who are also Biblical literalists, gay Orthodox Jews who are committed to Jewish law, and queers of every religion who refuse the choice that Savage—like Rick Santorum, Focus on the Family, and other messengers of intolerance—insists that they make between God and gay. Our very lives refute Savage’s oversimplifications.”

 

The reality is, there are so many other, wiser, loving, Godly advocates for LGBT people than Dan Savage.

Like Andrew Marin

And Justin Lee

And Matthew Vines

And Rachel Held Evans

And Tony Jones

And Mel White

And, of course, Macklemore

It is important to speak out about Dan Savage because he has positioned himself as a leader in gay rights. He must be held accountable for his hateful rhetoric, the same way right wing conservatives have to be held accountable for their hateful words. And yet, while most of whatever flings from Savage’s mouth makes my stomach turn, I have to remind myself, through gritted teeth and rolling eyes, that he too is beloved by God. He is.

 

RR

 

 

PS: What do YOU think?

Am I off base here?

Vulgar Grace

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Reposting this today. I love you Brennan. Rest well.

I swallowed hard this afternoon when I realized how much doubt I have in the God of the self-help books. That’s where I wanted to turn, to figure out how to re-engage with this large mystery. How to want to reconnect. It was frustrating.

And then Brennan rescued me, again. This passage means more to me than most other works I have come across. Be blessed with this.


 

Some have labeled my message one of “cheap grace.” In my younger days, their accusations were a gauntlet thrown down, a challenge. But I’m an old man now and I don’t care. My friend Michael Yaconelli used the phrase unfair grace, and I like that, but I have come across another I would like to leave you with. I believe Mike would like it; I know I do. I found it in the writings of an Episcopal priest Robert Farrar Capon He calls it vulgar grace.

“In Jesus, God has put up a “Gone Fishing” sign on the religion shop. He has done the whole job in Jesus once and for all and simply invited us to believe it- to trust the bizarre, unprovable proposition that in him, every last person on earth is already home free without a single exertion.: no fasting till your knees fold, no prayers you have to get right or else, no standing on your head with your right thumb in your left ear and reciting the correct creed- no nothing… The entire show has been set to rights in the Mystery of Christ- even though nobody can see a single improvement. Yes, it’s crazy. And, yes, it’s wild and outrageous and vulgar. And any God who would do such a thing is a God who has no taste. And worst of all, it doesn’t sell worth beans. But it is Good News- the only permanently good news there is- and therefore I find it absolutely captivating.”

My life is a witness to vulgar grace- a grace that amazes as it offends. A grace that pays the eager beaver who works all day long the same wages as the grinning drunk who shows up at ten til five. A grace that hikes up the robe and runs breakneck towards the prodigal reeking of sin and wraps him up and decides to throw a party no ifs, ands or buts. A grace that raises bloodshot eyes to a dying thief’s request- “Please, remember me”- and assures him, “You bet!” A grace that is the pleasure of the Father, fleshed out in the carpenter Messiah, Jesus Christ, who left His Father’s side not for heaven’s sake but for our sakes, yours and mine. This vulgar grace is indiscriminate compassion. It works without asking anything of us. It’s not cheap. It’s free, and as such will always be a banana peel for the orthodox foot and a fairy tale for the grown up sensibility. Grace is sufficient even though we huff and puff with all our might to try to find something or someone it cannot cover. Grace is enough. He is enough. Jesus is enough.

 

John the disciple Jesus loved, ended his first letter with this line: “Children, be on your guard against false idols.” In other words, steer clear of any god you can comprehend. Abba’s love cannot be comprehended. I’ll say it again: Abba’s love cannot be comprehended.

-Brennan Manning, All is Grace

 

RR

Has Brennan had a major impact in your life? Post in the comments your most favorite passages. The ones that have meant the most to you.

About Labels

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This post, for many readers here, will be sort of blatantly obvious. It’s a routine of talking points that we’ve had to deliver time and time again, but for whatever bizarre reason, it hasn’t broken ground and sprouted out. So, I’ll do my best to try to lay some fresh word.

 

What is often said, particularly amongst the older “early bird” supper not dinner crowd, who I happen to love so dearly, is that we sexual minorities need not use a label for ourselves when expressing that part of who we are.

 

One conversation I had with my dad, who is still unraveling everything he has learned in his 50 plus years (sorry for the age reminder pops), points to the state of understanding in the older generation.

 

I said I told a friend that I was gay, and he, in his gracious, loving and thoughtful way, asked why I needed to label myself. He asks me this out of unalloyed, authentic concern for how I will be perceived by a less than understanding world. Part of him, too, hopes that I will stake my identity first in Christ before anything else. And that is why he is a great dad. Sometimes a helicopter- but a great dad.

 

I respond to him by asking him what his sexual orientation is. And then there’s the ah ha… okay, I see what you’re saying. And that’s all it takes for him to understand that labels are less focal than they are formal.

 

And maybe, that conversation is the crux of where we are today. I plan on writing a post, or perhaps a series, on the importance of understanding your privilege, but this may be a microscope into how the privileged, through no fault of their own, project their desire to bring loved ones into normalcy. We’ve been taught time and time again that normalcy equates with virtue. Within the evangelical subculture, that the wills and whims of the majority must be the will of God. In secular culture, it means beautiful and acceptable and inalienable because they belong.

 

In Maya Angelou’s, I Know Why the Caged Bird Sings, she articulates beautifully what being a minority is like for a child that is aware of it.

 

“Wouldn’t they be surprised when one day I woke out of my black ugly dream, and my real hair which was long and blond would take the place of the kinky mass that momma wouldn’t let me straighten? My light-blue eyes were going to hypnotize them, after all the things they said about “my daddy must’ve been a Chinaman” (I thought they meant made out of China, like a cup) because my eyes were so small and squinty. Then they would understand why I had never picked up a Southern accent, or spoke the common slang, and why I had to be forced to eat pigs’ tails and snouts. Because I was really white and because a cruel fairy stepmother, who was understandably jealous of my beauty, had turned me into a too-big Negro girl with nappy black hair, broad feet and a space between her teeth that would hold a number two pencil.”

 

Maya grew up with a profound sense of her otherness and that told her that she wasn’t beautiful. That she wasn’t what she was supposed to be.

 

This is why we, as minorities, have to own our minority status. I remember sitting with counselor and my parents and I was in this whirlwind of choices, most of them would’ve been destructive, and I asked him, apprehensively, whether accepting my sexuality would take away any opportunity for change? I’ll never forget when he said, I don’t think you can move forward and be healthy, emotionally and spiritually, unless you learn to love all of yourself, including this.

 

And now it all makes sense to me.

 

It took me awhile, but after I stopped flailing to change inwardly it hit me that no matter what I did, what I told myself, what scripture I swallowed, I would always feel disconnected from myself. There was no way I could move forward until I owned that label for that part, with all the prejudice and sneers that came with it. I couldn’t war with myself anymore. I couldn’t call this a struggle. (That was the last descriptor I dropped- struggle. It’s a nicer name than say, perverted, but it still doesn’t fit. To me it sounds like a word straight conservative folks applied first, because this, this has hardly ever felt like a struggle. It’s felt like a discovery inside and rejection outside.)

 

When we are asked why this label is so important to bring to light, it is because of our history with it. It’s because the closet amplifies this label until its all we can hear reverberating off it’s walls. It is a huge part of our story. It is something we wish everyone could understand, yet, we know there is a gulf in experience. Which is frustrating.

 

This label is also misunderstood. You see, it would be weird for someone to caution my mom about identifying with that word mom. Or even mama or mother or, soon to be, grandmother or grandma. That is part of her story that is honorable and endearing and a fragment of who she is. We all know that she is more than that, but we celebrate this facet of her with all the value and hard times and bliss that accompanies it.

 

We are, each of us, a mix of characteristics and convictions patched together by the Blood. It is a beautiful thing.

 

When people prefer we use a different word to describe our sexual orientation, they mean well. They see the word as representing something deviant or at least, connected to a way of life that is deviant. It’s a guilt-by-association thing and since they know us and know that we are far from who they are, they think it’s a mistake to put that label on it. They think it’s setting ourselves up. They think that word is a target on our back.

 

And it is. In today’s world, it is a target on our back. And that’s why employing it is all the more important.

 

Their perspective is important for all of us to understand. It’s the same way many would caution a reformed alcoholic from identifying as an alcoholic. As they say in AA, once an alcoholic always an alcoholic, but these dear friends who are reformed are different than those alcoholics. They are not drinking, they are not deviant, they love God.

 

The same way we’re not hitting the clubs or dancing at pride or running away from God.

 

Problem is, being gay isn’t an addiction. It isn’t thoughts that popped up like phenomenons every now and then. It came with our “sexual awakening” of puberty. We noticed it and then we dealt with the fact that it was different and undesirable by our community… but it just was. We just are. We didn’t meet some monster in some street ally who perverted our nature. We didn’t have parents that loved us any less than yours (at least from me, as you’ve read before, my parents are wonderful.) Culture didn’t convince us to be gay, nor did our peers, nor did anything. In fact, we had nothing at all to gain from being gay. Being discriminated and ostracized aren’t exactly prices we would pay to be culturally relevant, as many have said. It is just, simply, a part of who we are. Case closed.

 

Secondly, alcoholism and homosexuality could not be further from each other. These two aren’t even on the same planet. Alcoholism is is destructive and is rightly viewed negatively. Being gay, recognizing same-sex attraction, isn’t a negative thing. It’s a statement of fact. It is a part of who we are. There is no averting these feelings and attempting to do so can lead to a life of depression and heartache. Saying we are gay is honesty. It is self-honoring. And it’s not negative.

 

Maybe this is the starting point where things actually start getting better. When we recognize that homosexuality is not a disease, not an addiction, not a choice, but a part of who are. A part that is labelled not by society, but by ourselves. A label that needs to be reclaimed. It needs to be redeemed. It needs to not be shunned or cautioned about, it needs to be better understood. As a part of that wide and expansive, every dimple and freckle mosaic of our personhood.

 

Maybe once that truth, that reality becomes the new state of understanding, well, maybe then we can All move forward.

 

RR

 

PS: What do you make of labels? Are you completely anti? Completely pro? Or somewhere in the middle? Better yet, what do you make of Normalcy?

 

*Make sure you subscribe to this blog on the right, top of the column… I swear I won’t bombard your inbox.

“Someday your *blank* will come” by Michael Overman [Love Letters]

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The following post is from Michael Overman. Michael is interning with the Marin Foundation this year while working towards his Masters of Divinity at Garrett-Evangelical Theological Seminary. You can check out his blog at findingthebalance.net.

 

And I know, I said a letter a month, BUT, I’ve had such an enthusiastic response from the blogging community and their letters are worth our attention right now. This little collection is for the drowning behind the closet door right now.

 

So, for now, I will be posting a letter a week or periodically, or until the well runs dry. We’ll see.

 

But at the moment, take in this piece. It’s incredible, moving and inspiring. Absorb it all.

~~~

An open letter to LGBT Christians about relationships and dreams…

I was nine when I realized I was gay. Around the same time, I hit puberty and I felt the first inklings of my call to ministry. Talk about a trip, especially for someone who wasn’t even a teenager yet. Almost immediately I started wondering what the future would hold for me…

Did this mean that I wouldn’t have a wife? What about kids? Could I still be a father? Would I fall in love? Could someone fall in love with me? Would I spend the rest of my life alone?

Growing up in a conservative denomination, I realized rather quickly that “people like me” weren’t supposed to have relationships. We weren’t supposed to fall in love, and if we did, it wasn’t supposed to be with the gender that really attracted us. If you’re a man, you’re supposed to marry a woman, and vice versa.

 

A relationship between a man and a man was wrong, broken, dirty and disgusting

 

Two women together is just abnormal, unnatural, inconceiveable

 

Yet for me, though I spent the time between nine and nineteen trying to have relationships with girls, deep down I knew such attempts were futile, and with every failed relationship, I felt as if God’s love for me, God’s pride in me was faltering, dissappearing into the great nothingness. Because of who I am, because of who I wanted to love, I was being led to believe that God loved me less, that my faults, my sins were worse, more vile, than those of my peers. Because my heart desperately wanted a husband, God looked down on me with shame and disappointment.

Today I’m married. His name is Frankie. We have two cats, the closest to children we’re willing to come right now. We have an apartment in Chicago. A back deck where I attempt every summer to grow herbs and simple flowers (attempt being the key word here). We have joint bank accounts and mutual debt and investments. We watch Doctor Who together, and he tolerates when I devour all six seasons of LOST in less than two weeks.

 

You know what? Some days I wake up and ask myself if this is all real

 

I grew up being told that no same-sex relationship is stable or healthy. None of them every really last. Even if they do, they’re a poor substitute for God’s original plan of heterosexual relationships. And yet here I am almost four years later. Sure, we hve our rough moments, but they’re the same rough moments that I’ve seen straight couples face.

 

Last summer, for our honeymoon, we went to New York to spend a week in the city. One night, waiting in line at TKTS for some cheap seats, we ran into another gay couple. Frankie and I were laughing, picking on each other as usual, being silly. These two guys, Steven and Alex, a Jewish-Columbian couple from Long Island, started talking to us. Frankie went into introvert mode (like he does… it’s cute), and I opened up. They were there celebrating their 23rd anniversary. We ended up not only having dinner together at a nearby Turkish restaurant, but we also saw the same show.

 

That night, everything I had been taught began to crumble. All my assumptions and preconceived notions about same-sex relationships started to shatter. That night, maybe for the first time since I met Frankie, I thought to myself

“We really have a chance here.”

Ask him. He’ll tell you the same thing.

We were created for relationship. It’s in our blood, our bones, our DNA. It’s intrinsic to who we are we God’s creation. And I’m not talking false, superficial, culturally-dictated relationships where you do what is “right” and “good” by the standards of others. I’m talking life-giving, abundant relationships, romantic and platonic. Any relationship that forms out of love has the potential to bring life. This is my hope for you, that you find this kind of love.

 

In my circle of friends, of LGBT people of faith, Christian faith in particular, there is a divide between those who believe that same-sex physical intimacy is God-honoring, and those who believe that sex of any sort, in order to be holy and right, should be restricted to the heterosexual marriage bed. While I can tell you about my own conclusions, my own wrestling with this particular component of relationship, I cannot decide for you what is right and what is not. No one can make that decision for you. But there are plenty of people out there willing to walk the path with you, the journey necessary for coming to your own conclusions.

 

While my hope is that you find the love you both want and need, my bigger point is this: you are loved, right where you are, just as you are. No conditions. No expectations. You are loved by the One who made you, a love that supercedes time and history, culture, label, sexual attraction. You are loved because you are known.

 

I don’t know you. I don’t know what your life has been like, what kind of pain and hardship you’ve experienced thus far. I don’t know if you’re out or if you’re closeted. I don’t know if you’ve decided that you want a mate, or if you think singleness and celibacy are right for you. I don’t know if you’ve learned to love yourself, or if you’re in a place of struggling with self-hatred.

 

I know this: I know God loves you. I know I love you

 

There is no rush for you to make any decisions, to come to any solid conclusions. I don’t know what you’ve been taught or led to believe, and while I hope that your lessons so far have affirmed how amazing, wonderful, and beautiful you are, I know there’s a chance that this is not the case, and I’m sorry for that. I hope you find what you’re looking for, what you need, what you long for. In the meantime, you are not alone. You are loved. As I say to Frankie, “Forever and always, until the wheels fall off.”

 

Much love,

Michael

 

*Make sure you subscribe to this blog on the right, top of the column… I swear I won’t bombard your inbox.

I Want to Be a Dad

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“Adoption is a redemptive response to tragedy that happens in this broken world.” -Katie J. Davis, Kisses from Katie

~

My favorite part about working at a high school is actually the daycare down the hall. We have four tiny toddlers from four sets of teens, all of whom are 16 and under.

I’ve learned to let go of my pity towards these young moms and dads. The way I see it, what’s done is done and I’m not really comfortable calling those little smiley droolly angels anybody’s tragedy.

And for teenagers, these parents are awesome, tough as nails awesome, warm mama hearts awesome, and in many ways, more mature than I am. With every passing day I can see them hustling down the hall to do drop off before the bell rings or running to the bathroom to change diapers or leaving early to make it to doctor appointments. I can see them doing the very best they can.

The school population as a whole, however, are quite the ornery bunch. This is an alternative high school with students that fell out of the mainstream’s good graces by being punks or getting pregnant, and in many ways, they behave like little toddlers themselves. Except they’re teenagers and they’re bold and their moods jump from whisper to tidal wave like THAT. When it gets there, when I’m on the verge of totally LOSING IT,

.

I escape to the daycare.

.

When I walk in, the kids know it’s me by the sound of my steps, so they zero in on the gate, arms raised above it, fingers reaching for me to hold them.

And for the next five minutes it is all bean bags and building blocks and goldfish snacks. It’s me watching them walk and fall and cry. It’s them hugging me and throwing high fives and tugging on my ears.

And it’s all so perfect with them. It is pure joy and laughter and sadness when time’s up.

.

But it’s also fear and heartache for me the whole entire time.

.

You hear about women that feel they were born to be mothers. Well, I feel like I was born to be a father. I want little ones I can sway in my arms, tuck in at night, cheer on at baseball games and bawl as they graduate.

.

Being a dad is one of my dreams.

~~~

~

Recently, here in Minnesota, some conservative pastors have been passing out talking points about the incoming “attack” on children should gay marriage be allowed here.

 

They say someone like me would be damaging to a child’s development. They say if I adopted a child, it would be trampling on their rights. They say no child wants anything but one father and one mother. No kid wants a dad like me.

 

And that hurts. It cuts to the bone. It makes me want to run away from this faith as fast as I can.

 

Because lets say I choose celibacy. Say I decide that I will refuse to enter into any marriage with a man, the route they’d prefer I go. Let’s say I decide that.

 

I am still unfit to be a parent, because, according to this subculture, single parents are also undesirables. Children need to see a female homemaker and a male breadwinner. That’s a family.

 

Yet, everyday I see so many kids walk through the school door from traditional families that could care less. So many moms and dads who have so little love to offer. And I know, from the bottom of my heart I know, I would love my kids. I would give them anything in this world. Right now, at 23 years old, I can say with confidence that I am willing to lay down my life for my future children.

 

And if we’re going to speak honestly on behalf of the world’s little ones, let’s look at how they’re faring.

 

There are 143 to 210 million orphans worldwide. They come from third and first world countries. They come from parents that reluctantly gave them up for adoption and parents that tossed them into the night like they were feral dogs. They come with hearts and souls and needs for both love and affection and at least two hands to tuck them in at night and two lips to kiss their forehead.

 

They come not asking for much, expecting very little, but hoping for love.

 

I don’t think these little orphans are sitting in dank, overcrowded, odorous rooms scrawling out checkbox lists in which they will agree to an adoption. I think they’re crying every time another one of their friends is chosen over them. I think their hearts break that no one has come yet. Call me crazy, but I believe they want to be adopted by anyone that promises them love.

 

And I need to be a dad to one of those kids. Whether they are ten days or ten years old, I want to be love to them. I want to take care of them.

 

Because I would be an amazing dad. I would love my kids like crazy. I would mold them into young men and women with compassion for the world. I would teach them what it means to stand up for the little guy. I would teach them integrity. I would tell them every night before bed that I love them and that God loves them. I would say it over and over and over again. I would put three meals before them every day, monitor their sugar intake and make them take their vitamins. I would check in the closet and under the bed for monsters every night. I will stand and not stop clapping at their recitals. I will love them if they go to jail or get pregnant or tell me they hate me. I will love them with my whole heart.

 

I don’t know why they say I am out to attack children. I don’t know why they say that gay people are monsters. I will never understand that kind of hate. Not ever.

 

RR

What I’m Into [March 2013]

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I’m linking up for the first time ever! Linking with Leigh Kramer. Let’s see how this goes.

 

Devoured:

 

Found The Moon is Down by John Steinbeck in a corner on a shelf at HalfPrice Books. Never read any Steinbeck before. Never knew how hilarious he was!

 

I was lucky to get an advanced copy of Jeff Chu’s Does Jesus Really Love Me. Really enjoyed the pilgrimage, Jeff doesn’t try to make himself front and center at all, allows us to see through his eyes. Here’s my review.

 

Others:

 

The Twelve Tribes of Hattie by Ayana Mathis

Cross Roads by William Paul Young

I Know Why the Caged Bird Sings by Maya Angelou

 

Next on the List:

 

This Boy’s Life by Tobias Wolf

Both Flesh and Not: Essays by David Foster Wallace

This Side of Paradise by F. Scott Fitzgerald

 

Blog Browsing:

 

Reconstructing the Bridge Metaphor– Addie Ziermann

I emailed Addie after I read this because it was one of those pieces that hits you smack dab in the heart where all the troubles are taking place. I read and reread this post. It made me feel normal and comforted.

 

I’m Learning to Like My Anger– Emily Maynard

As someone who is non confrontational and gets guilty whenever I flip out about something or some person, this was a really relatable read. I wrote something similar here.

 

Response to Christy McFerren– Kevin Shoop

Myself and other LGBT Christians are always quite uncomfortable when reparative therapy is promoted because we know exactly what it means for the desperate and scared in the closet: False Hope—er, damaging hope. A therapy that leads to suicide and depression dressed in happiness and freedom and God. Here Kevin, with more grace than I can muster, responds.

 

Others:

 

Open Theism Timeline– Tom Lukashow, Reknew

The Blame Game– Laura Statesir, The Marin Foundation

Getting it Right– Brent Bailey, OddManOut

Nailed it, GaySubtlety

Tonal Shift: Getting it Right, David McFarlane, Gay Christian, Very Anxious

Unending Conflict, Unending Forgiveness, Steph Spencer, Everyday Awe

 

Some of my March Posts:

 

Waffles and Shoveling

When God is Gone

Grace to Breathe

Open Letter to the Closeted

The Rubber Band

Runaway Easter

 

And thaaaaat is what I’ve been into!

RR

Does it really get better?- Kevin Shoop (Love Letters Series)

 

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Today I am incredibly excited and proud to kick off the Love Letter Series. This is a big day for my blog. It is the start of something I have wanted to do for such a long time. Provide a place where my LGBT brothers and sisters can find encouragement and affirmation from a variety of voices, big and small. A place where love is the offering and hope is the message. A small push in turning the tide of evangelical vitriol toward the LGBT community. This is reconciliation. This is restoration. This is everything.

 

 The plan is to post one of these letters at the first of every month, creating a tab where they can be accessed easily.

 

For the first post, we have Kevin Shoop. I can’t think of anyone better to start off this series. I’ve read his story and it baffles me that he has had the courage and conviction to pursue Christ. He has wisdom to pour out, please absorb it.

Read more from Kevin here

~~~

Does it really get better?

That’s a question I’m sure most of you have asked. Especially if one or more of the following is true about you today:

  • You identify as a Christian
  • You go to a non-affirming church
  • You are in the closet
  • Most or all of your family believe that being gay is a sin (or at the very least, unnatural)
  • You are trying to change
  • You have chosen a path of lifelong celibacy
  • You don’t know whether you want to be a Christian or not
  • You feel lonely and marginalized by either Christians or the LGBT community (or both)

Let me briefly share my own story with you, with the hope that you will realize the width, depth, and breadth of God’s love for you, no matter where you are in your spiritual journey.

I grew up in the Bible Belt and faithfully attended conservative evangelical churches until my late 20s. My elementary, junior high, high school, and college years were spent in conservative Christian schools. I worked in a Christian bookstore for over three years. I’ve been to a number of Christian counselors, had mentoring relationships with pastors, and attended extensive ex-gay group therapy. My life was permeated with the American Christian subculture in the first 27 years of my life.

I was in the closet to family and friends during this time. Although I was determined to overcome homosexuality, I was equally determined to hide it. There was too much shame associated with being gay. As a result of hiding, my relationships with others became more distant and shallow. I became desperately lonely. My vision of God became a stone figure with a passive smile: yes, He loved me (signified by the smile), but He was powerless to change me and incapable of active love.

So I gave up.

One cold February evening in Northeastern Ohio, I gave up the fight. I had prayed too many times. I had spent too much time confessing my desires and fears with mentors and counsellors. I had tried too long to change. I had spent too many hours ashamed of who I was. I was done.

Aptly, it snowed that night. I woke up to grey skies and everything blanketed in white. I felt my relationship with God had ended, and that my faith had died. I was entering the winter of my spiritual life.

Interestingly, I wasn’t in despair. I was numb. And I also felt relieved. I felt I didn’t have to try to please God anymore, because He had already rejected me.

What I didn’t realize at the time was that evening was not an ending, but a milestone. A turning point. I had finally and unapologetically let go. I had wrestled with the angel, and I was defeated—rendered incapable of fighting anymore.

Since that night, my journey has been interesting and unexpected. I’ve rejected God. I’ve come back to God. I went through a time of sexual promiscuity. I met and am now “married” to my current partner. I stopped going to church, stopped praying, and stopped reading the Bible. I started going to church again (about 6 months ago). The church I go to now is gay-affirming. Every week at the communion table, all are invited to partake wherever you find yourself on the journey of faith.

There is a common theme to my story. No matter what phase of life I find myself, Jesus continues to love me actively and passionately. He didn’t love me more when I was fighting to change. He didn’t love me less when I was hooking up with strangers over the internet for sex. He didn’t love me more when I was praying and reading my Bible and witnessing. He didn’t love me less when I questioned (and still question) his existence and his goodness. There are no qualifiers to his love. There are no “buts” to these statements. Jesus loves me. Jesus loves you. Period.

Your journey is your own, and it is sacred. Whether you are fully embracing your sexuality, attempting to live a life of celibacy, trying to change your sexuality, have rejected the God of your childhood, are currently identifying as a atheist, or whether you are somewhere else on the continuum of faith and life, you are on holy ground. Your path may be different than mine, and in the end we may arrive at different places, but we are both loved without condition.

 

Much love,

Kevin