Shallow Understanding

1585

It’s not his fault. I mean, at least he’s trying. I think. If you’ve read some of my earlier posts, you know that I’ve come out to several close friends. One of them in particular has been trying hard to understand. He’s more than willing to listen; he initiates often; and I know that in his own way, he cares about me. But sometimes his attempts at understanding are more painful than the plain-spoken hatred of homophobes.

My being gay is not analogous to your experiencing lust

I’m a little surprised how common this thinking is among evangelical Christians. Have they really not thought it through? “You know, I see women all the time that I think are sexy, but I choose not to act on it.” So, if straight guys occasionally have to curtail their sexual appetite, that’s somehow equivalent to gay people forsaking their sexuality altogether? It feels a bit like someone saying “Oh, you’re not allowed to eat food, ever? Well, I know just how you feel! One time I had to say ‘no’ to a second bowl of ice cream.”

There’s a huge difference between being told there should be some limits on your sexual expression somewhere, and being told that any expression of your sexual desire would be wrong, in every context. Matthias Roberts writes about this way of thinking in his post Stop Comparing Your Lust to My Sexual Orientation.

Your six months of studying can’t compare to my years of lived experience

This one was especially frustrating. My friend wants to discuss with me what the Bible has to say about gay sex. As far as I can tell, it’s not in a Bible-bashy kind of way – I think he’s genuinely curious about how my beliefs have evolved over time. I used to believe the standard evangelical line, and now I don’t.

The problem is that I’m not willing to engage the issue on a purely academic level. Don’t get me wrong – I’m more than capable of defending my beliefs. But for me it’s not ONLY academic. It’s personal! And if it’s personal for me, I want it to be personal for him. Get to know gay people. Listen to their stories. Hear firsthand the pain that Christians have caused, and continue to cause, to LGBT people.

In response he said that he was very invested, and that he had spent significant time praying about the issue and studying the scriptures. When I pressed for details, he elaborated that a few years ago, he and his wife thought that one of their children might be gay. So they had studied the Bible long and hard to find out what it had to say, and in the end weren’t convinced of anything other than the “traditional” view they had already held.

But where in that process did they get to know any gay people? What sources did they study? What experts did they consult? I’m with Kevin Garcia when he says I Don’t Need Another Straight Pastor to Tell My Story. If you want to engage in a conversation about gay people, make sure you START BY LISTENING TO GAY PEOPLE!

Imposed lifelong celibacy is an incredibly heavy burden

OK. I understand that in the end, not everyone will agree with me. People will reach their own conclusions. I hope that people will at least get to know gay people before deciding what they believe about the ethics of gay relationships, but even then, they still may reach different conclusions than I have. But whatever you choose to believe about the ethics of gay relationships, don’t minimize the weight of the burden of imposed celibacy. Speaking about the religious leaders of his day, Jesus said “They crush people with unbearable religious demands and never lift a finger to ease the burden” (Matthew 23:4). It’s one thing to reach the conclusion that gay sex is wrong, and that consequently gay people should choose celibacy. It’s quite another to pretend that for them to do so is not excruciatingly difficult. And then, as some Christians do, to add the implication that if a gay person chooses another path, it’s somehow indicative of a lack of self-control.

Don’t underestimate the damage done by attitudes like yours

It’s relatively easy to discount the bile spewed by obnoxious haters. It’s much harder to reconcile the emotional dissonance caused when someone who seems to love you nevertheless embraces beliefs that deny your basic personhood. And that’s what it feels like to me.

 

Advertisements

12 comments

  1. Well before I came out I threw the bible out figuratively. There are 7 admonishments for gay people and there is 372 admonishment for straight people. Don’t get me wrong God loves straight people to but they require much more supervision than gay people

    Like

    1. “… so much more supervision…” – that’s great! And to be honest, it’s not entirely clear that those 7 passages you refer to are even addressing gay people. Some appear to be addressing straight people using gay sex as a crime of violence, or prostitution as a religious ritual.

      Like

  2. I understand this thinking. My best friend knows about me. I came out to him in 1987. He still accepted me and loved me. He even knew that I was crushing on him. But we have remained close over the years. In fact, I kept saying that I was same sex attracted and he was the one calling me gay. I did not think I should be called gay if I had never been with a man. He said, “you are because you are… not because you have been with a man.” But … he also wanted me to stay married to my wife and never ever cheat on her.. so my gay feelings needed to be kept under control… just like he was not going to cheat on his wife… even though he might think about other women. I understood this from the view we both had as strong Christians… but now, years later, he has left the church and no longer follows God. He thinks I am nuts to keep going to a church where they would throw me out if they knew the real me. He thinks God and the Bible are anti-gay and I am nuts to keep following that. He has become very liberal and I am still a conservative. Recently… I shared with him that my marriage hit a huge bump when my wife learned that I had been intimate with 3 men. (various forms of intimacy) He was so shocked and upset with me, he says he will always love me and always support me… but this was just so wrong and he acts like I am someone he doesn’t even know anymore. Well, he has changed a lot too. I am not used to this new guy, who doesn’t pray with me anymore, doesn’t talk about the Bible, doesn’t go to church, uses profanity, drinks gin, and has totally accepted his son as transgendered. His son is my great nephew and this has been hard for my wife and I to get used to. She refuses to call him a girl and say a girl’s name … but she is at least trying not to call him by his real name. But we do pray for him daily. I told my friend that it is taking some time for me to wrap my head around this. And he was upset that I was not joining him in full support since I want people to accept me for who I am. I said… “I am not asking anyone to accept me but my wife and you.. and you do and she doesn’t.” I am trying hard to use the words she and her… and call him/her by a girl’s name… but it doesn’t come easy. The boy’s mother and sisters are not doing it. I guess this last part has gone off topic a bit. Anyway… I wanted to let you know that I understand when your friends don’t get it.

    Like

  3. “this new guy, who doesn’t pray with me anymore, doesn’t talk about the Bible, doesn’t go to church, uses profanity, drinks gin, and has totally accepted his son as transgendered” – sounds like my kind of guy!

    On the other hand, the fact that he compares his having to curb his sexual appetite to you denying yours entirely… he’s really missing the boat there. These are so very different.

    Like

    1. well.. I am getting used to the changes… and I still love him. His hugs are always fantastic and he tells me he loves me. I need that. After 29 years, you can’t just walk away… well, I guess you can. At this point, I could see myself walking away from my marriage of 36 years. It has been sexless since 88. But there is still something there to hold on to. He is a puzzle. He seems to want me to embrace my gayness totally. To just say that I am. Yet.. not live it out. I asked him why it was so important that I do that. Why can’t I be confused and not know.. and just be me and not label myself? He said it did not matter, but when I make up my mind, just to let him know. I wasn’t going to tell him about the men I met, but I usually end up telling him everything. So, I told him about my wife finding out and being so upset. But that meant telling him what she was upset about. He took her side. But she is his wife’s aunt and his family loves her.. even if he doesn’t.

      Like

  4. It is very difficult to be close with people who have very rigid minds, even worse if they are so sure of themselves that they think they have all the answers. I will always feel closer to somone who has doubts as opposed to someone with all the answers. Good for you for defending yourself and for keeping at arms length those who would cause harm. While it is sad when such people are friends, it is better to stand up for yourself than to bear their negative judgments in silence.

    Like

    1. I totally agree about the inherent difficulty in being friends with people who have rigid minds. I just had a conversation with this friend today, and I was asking about how his beliefs have shifted over the past 20 years. He pointed out some areas where his beliefs have changed – and I definitely saw those things as signs of some open-mindedness. But at the same time I asked if he felt more certain about his beliefs or less certain than he was 20 years ago, and he answered “more certain.” God I couldn’t be further from that.

      Still it was a very productive conversation as I very much kept him honest and called him whenever he was spouting BS (including making some suggestions about phrases to avoid like “live the gay lifestyle”). I think the most significant thing I asked of him was – if he wants to continue building our relationship, I want him to spend some time getting to know LGBT people and to hear their stories firsthand. Since our last conversation several weeks ago, he found three gay people in his circles of acquaintances, and initiated conversations with them about their experiences. I told him that step alone gave me hope for him 🙂

      Like

  5. Wow a lot to this post. May I take you back in time to a 14 year old boy, who had been abused, but had a friend, one he counted on and cared for. The boy thought his friend would be with him forever. Sadly the day he told his friend he was gay, and his friend questioned him.. how do you know ? The boy answered that he had feelings, dreams, and fantasizes about other guys his age. Then the friend asked if he had ever acted on those or done anything with a guy. The boy was so ashamed because the actions with another guy were not with his consent but he said yes. He had had relations with a guy. The friend got up and left. The next day he told the boy he couldn’t be friends with him anymore, in fact would denounce him, and assault him if he came near him again. He gave the boy a paper with a few bible verse his mother had written out for him. He then said he was sorry, but there was no way they could be friends any more, after five years, because he had had sex with another male. The boy tried to tell friend the sex was not his idea, he did not want it, and the friend said it was not enough, not important, that it happened was all that mattered.

    The boy was me at 14. It made no difference to my 14 year old friend that I had been raped against my will. It made no difference to his family. They simply banned me. Now I could have said nothing and been friends with him for a lot more years, what changed in our lives. No matter that we had been friends for five years, no matter that the sex was forced on me, the simple fact I had been a party to it was enough to cause them to turn their back on me. I often wonder if they ever knew what that did to me , a 14 yr old abuse victim, suddenly with out a friend and being thrown away as trash, for something I did not want to do but for feelings I had.

    Moving forward in to the future. You are so correct, that to ask any one to deny the sexuality that is inherent in us ( or god given if you believe in a deity ) That is what leads to so many preachers and priests and others of the faith to act out in sexual ways. It always amazes me that if a boy get caught or even in general any one is found gay, the whole church has no forgiveness, no matter what , the lord has spoken, yet when it is a clergy, they get to have forgiveness. Ted Haggard, he got forgiven while preaching no redemption for those who did what he did. How many priests got forgiven for raping boys or even having those feeling yet the people in the pews were not given that grace?

    I hope you see why I don’t have any love for and in fact hate organised religion.

    Now to your situation. It is really no one else business. Sorry but I have know peoples in so many different arrangements that don’t fit a church stereotype and they are so happy. I know people , yes personally, who are a committed three people relationship, that has lasted almost 63 years. They are very old now, but they loved each other. I have know people who couldn’t commit, and I have known people who gave their hearts and when it soured did not know what to do. Just a point of interest, I believe in all relationships that are equal, open, and agreed to by the parties involved. Please don’t tell me about the bibles version of marriage unless you are willing to admit it included the fact the man could basically take who ever he wanted and the women had to agree. I can provide links, but the bible insists on such things.

    Now as to forced celibacy as I know we have already discussed, it simply is not only against nature but dang, after a while no man can resist touching him self and getting relief. Look I know you don’t want to go the root of a third part to the relationship you have with your wife, but it would solve all the problems. You could both agree to this, and your wife may or not have a part as she wishes but it would save your marriage, yes you can have this male person in your life, better your self as a person, grow, and even be a better father and husband to your family, this person shouldn’t be kept secret but be a part of the family. I have seen this work many times. Often what happens if the wife also enjoys the company of the third person and the whole family benefits. Rather than hating themselves or having huge issues of recriminations, the whole family grows and has a third person to help with child raising. This is has been shown in nature with animals, wolves often do this , so it is not against nature.

    Greg you have your own place to find and I am sorry , but I am simply giving you options I know from my own life you may not have thought of. My problem is that the book you and your wife base their ideas of sexuality on is not well understood ( see the video ) today, and in fact if you were alive in that time, you would have been more than allowed to have your wife, your children, and a “manservant” who would also be your lover. Some were willing and some were simply forced in to it, but the point is back in the days of when the bible was written many men kept other men as sexual …what ever. I am not make this up it is documented, it is part of your own religious book.

    I hope you find peace, I do care about you. I just hope you don’t deny your self expressions of sexual enjoyment and sharing to the point that one day you become so bitter that you regret living. Please if this is too much to deal with in your open blog email me and we will talk. Again I care. I do not want to see you destroyed, you have too much to offer the world. Hugs

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thanks Scottie for sharing your story, your heart, and your wisdom that you’ve gained through your own life. I’ve appreciated much that you’ve shared in response here on this blog as well as on yours.

      What a terrible response from your ‘friend’ (and more from his family, since that’s obviously where he learned it). Punishing the victim – how can they have possibly imagined that as a ‘moral’ response?

      We’re just beginning to broaden our circle of friends to wonderful people who have made a wide range of lives for themselves – far from the narrow script that fundamentalist churches present. It’s encouraging to hear of your friends who have made good and loving relationships that people in the church could never imagine. I’m open.

      Liked by 1 person

      1. Wonderful Greg. I am so happy your wife is exploring options with you. That is a great sign, it is so hopeful that it you may find a way that you both can live in love, both happy, both fulfilled. I am so happy for you both. I wish you the best. Hugs

        Like

  6. coming out, where in several countries are just a dream for gay guy, they have to bit their tongue and not saying a word about who truly they are, many of them are fleeing from their hometown to have the life they wish to.
    it is wonderful to know that there are others who actually doing it.

    Liked by 1 person

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s