This is the seventh in a series on “One Christian Minister’s Response to Homosexuality.”
I was talking with my Mary last night about how discouraged I was about this series on homosexuality on my blog. When she asked why I said, “I don’t know, I think my friends who are straight are probably annoyed with a straight, white, bald guy writing about this issue. And I’m not sure this is really encouraging or helping persons who are gay. I just don’t know,” as I shook my head.
She reminded me about two blogs that I read on a regular basis and how I had just read two posts from those blogs aloud to her recently. We were both moved by the truth, clarity, and humor of each.
Mary said, “Drexel and Rami are not even aware that you read their blogs and you are moved by their words. I bet there are people who are reading your blog and you just don’t know about it.”
She saw my faithless face and added, “Besides, I’m not sure that is the reason you are writing anyway,” alluding to the fact that I write because it is important for me to put my thoughts, beliefs, and reflections down for my own sake.
And, she is right. I write here so that I can be clearer about my life’s purpose.
The reason I am on this planet is to create community and connection for persons who need it most, wherever I encounter them in my daily life. I know what it is like to be alone and wonder if God is present.
When I got up at my regular 4:30 a.m. time this morning, one of the first things I read was an email I received overnight from an anonymous reader on my blog. Here is what this person said:
Thank you for giving a damn about me. Thank you for giving your heart and soul to those of us in the LGBTQ (lesbian, gay, bi-sexual, transgendered, questioning) community. Thank you for serving God and embracing the diversity that IS God.
I am reading your series and have wept through nearly every post. It reminds me of my own struggle with sexuality vs. my Evangelical upbringing. I prayed for nearly 30 years, endured exorcisms (yes, exorcisms), counseling, ex-gay camps, condemning, damning sermons, flaming accusations, etc. from the church.
I was and still am Gay. God didn’t change that part of my life. I had come to a point where I plea bargained with God that if He didn’t change me, I’d just be gay, leave Him behind and go to hell, like I had been taught–because I couldn’t fight anymore. I surely couldn’t be gay AND Christian. So, if God didn’t change me, it meant He didn’t love me. My whole world changed in 2006. I visited a gay-affirming church and Pastor J.R. Finney II, from Covenant Community Church taught me to forget all that I had learned and to discover God again; this time, without the guilt of religion.
While I am thankful for my previous religious upbringing, as a foundation for God’s word, I am more thankful that I got a chance to re-learn what God really says about me in His Word. God thinks I am OK and I’d rather have God’s approval. I have since forgiven those Christians who ignorantly shunned, hated and damned me.
I have even forgiven the Pastor who “outed” me 17 years ago during one of his famous fire and brimstone sermons on a Sunday morning when I was absent. He is no longer there. I have visited the church of my childhood several times since then–and you know what, I am loved by them.
The members, many who have been my Sunday school teachers, school teachers, either don’t remember or don’t care that I am gay. And you know what? They accept me unconditionally and often invite me to do the Lectionary readings on Sunday morning when I visit. That is an honor that I cherish. I am what I am; I am how God made me, and I embrace that now.
My life has been hard, but I grew and I learned, and I thrived. I think that, things had been really easy, would I appreciate my life this much? Furthermore, the struggles remind me that “the negative experience helps us appreciate the positive that much more.”
I want to say thank you to this anonymous writer for creating community for me when I needed it most. Surprise, surprise.
And thank you to my wife, Mary Bea Sullivan , for your encouragement in my life. You create connection for me like I have never experienced before.
I think I’ll keep writing.