All about Adam (Synchroblog)

Today is a pretty special day.  I’m joining several other bloggers in a “synchroblog.”  We’re talking about ways to bridge the gap between the Church and the gay community (something I’m sure you know I’m pretty passionate about since I identify as both Christian and gay).  Feel free to head over to New Direction Ministry’s blogging page to read other folks who are writing about similar themes . . .

————————————————————

Once upon a time, I was one of those “ex-gays” you read so much about.  And a pretty good one too (so I thought).  I was actually helping to lead an online youth ministry geared towards those “struggling with unwanted same sex attractions.”  Our group was very tight-knit.  To this day, some of the folks I met in the ministry are like brothers and sisters to me.  We bared our souls to one another, and shared things that we had never fathomed to utter to another human being.  Those years were transformative . . . we all learned so much, regardless of the paths we ultimately chose.

But there was one particular friend that I remember hurting very badly. His name was Adam.  Adam was really questioning a lot of things at the time: his life, his spirituality, his sexuality.  And I – his brother in Christ – did nothing to aid him.  Don’t get me wrong, I thought I was being very helpful by pointing out how sinful he was to be questioning these sorts of things, and to not stand on the Word as he should. 

It wasn’t until months later, however, when I gained access to an “advanced” section of that particular group that I read some discussions that Adam had about me behind my back (since he had access to the advanced boards long before I did).  I can’t recount his exact words.  I just remember reading them broken-hearted.  He shared with some others how painful and stressful it was to be having to deal with me (and a couple of other people who were hard on him) on top of all of these other things he was questioning. 

That day changed my life.  That day I realized how much my words, my persuasion, could be utterly malevolent.  And I was forced to inspect my own soul.  How could I have done this?  How could I have hurt a friend so?  And in the name of Christ to boot! 

FEAR.

It was my fear.  Deep down, I was afraid of Adam and what his doubts represented.  I was afraid that if he questioned those things, then I might have to question them too.  That was simply too scary for me.  My entire notion of the universe, God, and my whole self were wrapped up in a particular reading and understanding of Scripture.  If one thing unraveled, the whole ball would fall limp to the floor – tattered shreds of yarn.  Useless.

I couldn’t have my whole world crumble.  So I did what so many Christians do in those times: I tried to coax Adam out of doubt, and into safe certainty.  And by so doing, I nearly ruined a friendship – causing undue emotional trauma to a wonderful human being.

How much does FEAR get in the way of effective communication?  How much do we need God and life to be some certain way in order for our world to make sense and feel safe?  How long will we allow fear to dominate conversation, such that we prove ourselves right, and everyone to the contrary wrong?  How long will we allow our rightness to exist at the expense of loving others in the way that Christ did – in that open, inclusive, messy, precarious, undaunted, unfaltering, expansive, and beautiful way?

I’d love to hear your thoughts!  And please feel free to read other bloggers on this synchroblog!

DJ

Advertisements

12 thoughts on “All about Adam (Synchroblog)

  1. Thank you for this vulnerable and honest post.  I am so glad you have participated in this emerging conversation ….. that to this point has been so thoughtful, grace-filled and hopeful.  I pray that this continues to give shape to those who are doubting, wrestling, questioning, or living in the tensions  ….. to be encouraged and hopeful in the journey.

  2. “The rightness to exist at the expense of loving others”. How true that is! I find that it’s the fear that paralyzes folks, so much so that they just shut down and resist God’s command on their life – whether that be calling or intimately involving themselves in someone else’s life. The one thing that I’ve heard so much recently from a lot of straight Christians is that they feel God urging them to listen and learn from their GLBT brothers and sisters, and yet they don’t because of, as you said, the fear takes them! Thanks for your encouragments in what it is to grab hold of that fear – in other words, living as a “good Christian” and just start living the life God’s leading you in. I feel blessed in your vulnerability. Thanks!

  3. Hey Darren! How many years we have come through since our time in that ministry, what what different places we all ended….it is forever a mystery and joy  to me. I love you brother and am so appreciative that you were able to join in and share in this synchroblog with me. As always I love you and am proud to call your brother. After finishing today’s post I read the previous one on “You’ll never be satisfied”. It made me think of an email I received the other day from a stranger who had just seen the documentary in San Fransisco and had tracked me down on Facebook to let me know how sad he was for me that I was so unsatisfied and that some day he prayed I would be able to accept myself. I shook my head sadly thinking….I’m unhappy? I hate my life? Why did no one send me a memo about this? Having walked through topic with more people than I can count now, and having friends all over the place with orientation and theology the biggest conclussion that I have come to is that the people I know who are motivated by deep conviction and choose to follow it, no matter how hard it is, are happy. What I also find is that those who are motivated by fear, shame, self hatred, or coercion by others are generally unsatisfied. What has most surprised me along the way is that I know people on all sides of the issue that seem to be doing things out of the wrong motivations and are unsatisfied, and ones who are doing it for the right and are satisfied.I have gay friends whose fear of being alone drives them into relationships before they have settled for themselves what they believe, and ex-gay friends whose loud protestations of how happy they belies the frustration, resentment and fear building in them. What frustrated me most about our time in ex-gay ministry together was the seeming lack of awareness for what was motivating people, and a willingness to use negative motivators to keep people “in the fold” while claiming that it was all for their own good. I think that one of the things that freedom has to be a key part of the bridge over the gap. A freedom that believes that God is big enough that I can trust people to look at all sides, that I don’t have to use fear tactics to keep them in line. I honestly do not believe that the harm in our old ministry came from what it taught, because for each of us it was the only safe place available at a very difficult time in our lives. I think the harm came in the fact that there was no real way community to continue in the face of genuine disagreement. I was reading the story of the Prodigal Son the other day and something occurred to me for the first time: The father gave the son the inheritance! He was by no mean bound to do so, and could have written the son out of it merely for demanding it! But instead he allowed the Son his inheritance, allowed him to leave, and accepted him back with grace when he returned. Ofcourse we could have a fun arguement over who is the prodigal right now, but that misses the point…whichever side we on I think we need to model the Father that gives respect and freedom to those who genuinely disagree with us, and send them off with all we can. I pray that my years of ministry at New Direction have been ones that have allowed youth the freedom to question, struggle, and choose, and that I have the courage to help each one live out what their convictions are, rather than demand they simply follow me.Brian(PS we going camping this year?)

  4. I have alot of friends from my college days, back when I was a conservativeChristian who thought that homosexuality was a sin (oops). These peopleare still my friends today. The funny thing is, once we got past “thegay issue,” we find that we have a lot of common ground to talk about.I’m still the person they always knew, so we still have the same thingsin common, so most days, we sit around sharing recipes or talking aboutour cats, and we don’t find a need to constantly debate “the gayissue.” Too many times, people see debate as a tool for changing otherpeople’s minds…if you debate with them, you can make them agree withyou, right? I know the desire of my heart, and it is to see my friendsnot see me as something evil…it’s to see my friends accept that God ismy God, too, and that Jesus is my Jesus, too, and I could love mysame-sex partner and still love Jesus. But they don’t see it that way,and that hurts me. The thing is, though, I don’t agree with theiropinions, and they believe just as strongly as I believe, so I have tostep back and let them be who they are and not try to change them allthe time. I’m still trying to accept who I am, all of me, and thisdidn’t come overnight or even in a few years. I can’t ask others toaccept me right away, either. And they do accept me, they just don’taccept this part of me…it’s a big part of who I am, and it’s importantto me, but it’s not everything.Forus this has been a journey of stepping back and agreeing to love inspite of our differences instead of trying to change our differences.It’s difficult, but I’m willing to try, and I’m glad that they are, too.Istill struggle with the issues of whether my attractions are a sin,too. I cried about it today. Whenever I force myself to face God, I endup crying and trembling in fear because I’m afraid of so many thingsI’ve done wrong.  I only say this to point out that it’s not easy, and I haven’t come to a place where i can say, “Yeah, I know I’m right, God loves me and is cool with this, I’m good.”  I can’t say that.  I don’t know if I ever can.  I found myself attending a church a few weeks ago that has a “training program that can cure you of all sinful tendencies, homosexuality included.”  This is a copy of the brochure they gave me, online for your convenience: http://www.revivalchristian.org/120106.htm  You’d think with all my experience with the “ex-gay” therapy, I’d know better.  But I was at that church because it seems that for me, I don’t ever fit into any church, and it seems like I have to change in order to fit in anyway, so what’s one more lie?  Can I throw away my struggles and my questions, everything that makes up my soul and trade it in for pretend wholeness?Ultimately, what led me away from that church is the same thing that always does…if I were to declare that my attractions for women are a sin, I’d have to confess that sin and say that my love for a certain woman was wrong.  I’d have to say that the way we expressed that love was wrong.  And I don’t think it was.  No matter how I try, even in my deepest moments of self-loathing, I can’t pretend that her love didn’t bring me back to life at a time when I wanted to give up.  In a lot of ways, she brought me back to God, and for that, I can’t ever say that loving her was a sin.  So I turned away from that church and I’m still here, struggling to be in a position where I can say God loves me.  It’s not easy.  I keep getting the same answer, every time I cry out to God. Lamentations (myfavorite book of the bible) ends with the people in exile, crying outto the Lord, asking Him to answer them, and they end on the note”Unless you are going to stay angry with us forever.” I feel likethat’s where I am most of the time, but the point is, they still knewwho to ask. they were at rock bottom, but they were still looking up,and they knew who to turn to when they cried out to God.Hebrews11:13-16 really speaks to me on this issue. The whole chapter talksabout people in the Old Testament who lived their lives serving God andwho died without receiving the promise. Then it says:13 Allthese people were still living by faith when they died. They did notreceive the things promised; they only saw them and welcomed them froma distance. And they admitted that they were aliens and strangers onearth. 14 People who say such things show that they are looking for acountry of their own. 15 If they had been thinking of the country theyhad left, they would have had opportunity to return. 16 Instead, theywere longing for a better country—a heavenly one. Therefore God is notashamed to be called their God, for he has prepared a city for them.Iguess, to me, I want to have the kind of faith that can ask and ask andbelieve even when I don’t hear the answers to my questions. I have tobelieve that God is bigger than my fear and doubt, and that His graceis sufficient for me when I am weak, which is everyday. So even if I’mwrong (which I don’t think I am…I believe, then disbelieve, thenbelieve again) I can take heart that God can cover any mistakes I’vemade if I’ve truly tried to follow Him with all my heart.

  5. Darren, I appreciate you and your post here today.  You have shown tremendous grace and understanding in allowing me to ask you some very personal questions as I process a lot of my own thinking.  I am glad to know you and be on this journey of bridge-building with you.

  6. @wendy - thanks for spearheading this project!  i hope that we are building momentum towards a more unified, graceful church, but even if not, know that i’ve got your back.  we’re in this together! @andrewmarin1 - andy, thanks for your words.  unfortunately, it is that fear that usually keeps evangelicals from hearing a word that i say.  i’m already “corrupted”, or backslidden, and certainly not a Christian, so it’s easy for them to brush me off.  that’s why i’m thankful for YOUR voice, b/c they can’t brush you off quite as easily . . . unless of course you become “emergent” @Brian - brian!  thanks for the comments!  first of all, there’s no argument to be had.  CLEARLY you’re the prodigal .  *kidding!*  secondly, YES, camping is ON!  see you in a few weeks my friend!  thirdly, i couldn’t agree with you more about those motivations.  amen!  i, too, have seen people on all sides of the issue who are happy/unhappy based upon whether or not they had proper convictions and motivations in place.  though, i do have to admit, i find more ex-gays to be unhappy . . . but you are clearly an exception to that!  and frankly, i wanna beat the crap outta the person who left that facebook message for you!  it’s haughty, and completely unhelpful.  it’s narrow-minded, and it makes me mad! ok, rant over :)lastly, i have to slightly disagree on one point.  i do feel that there was harm in what our old ministry taught.  but at the same time, i’ll be the first to admit that probably the majority of what was taught was actually helpful, and graceful, and necessary for me.  like you said, i needed that place to initially come to terms with my sexuality, and i probably wouldn’t have done so without it.  that’s why i will defend that ministry anytime an outsider has something smart to say about it love you, man!  can’t wait to see you and your loverly wife again!@edwardnortonfan - wow.  thank you SO MUCH for that heartfelt, warm, vulnerable response!  i was talking with a woman a few days ago who is doing research on those with an ex-gay background, and she mentioned how Christians tend to have a certain way of telling a story.   generally, it goes something like this: “i was ignorant, then my life was a mess, then Jesus stepped in, and now i’m all better!”  and it’s so true that we do this!  so i’ve been really making an effort not to simplify my life with that formula.  sounds like you too are more interested in being faithful, and honest, than in being right, and being perfect, and having all the right answers.  i think that kind of humility is so necessary, and so great!  i too still question myself and my beliefs from time to time.  as a matter of fact, i think i too had some serious introspection at the time of writing this post (and reading others’ posts) to see if i could still hold to the belief that God blessed my same-sex relationship.  after a good deal of stressing, then praying, then releasing . . . i found that my honest heart towards God was to maintain that belief, for that is what i feel He’s calling me to.  but i have my doubts . . . i’m really just walking in faith. faith in what he’s shared w/ me over the past couple of years.  if i’m wrong, may his grace and mercy be big enough to erase my honest mistakes.thanks again!  can we be blog buddies, please? @carleton1958 - right back atcha, jeff!  proud to know you, and proud to be constructing this bridge with you, despite the naysayers who would have us be divisive and continue a culture war that couldn’t possibly be won by either side.

  7. w00t!  Blog buddies it is!I have to dust off my xanga, I forgot I had one until this synchro-blog.  I was in a church that kicked a bunch of its members out after they read our xanga pages and discovered that some of us were gay (they went door to door with printouts of people’s xanga pages and told parents in town not to let their kids around us…scary!)  So I moved to Livejournal after that. Thanks for being so honest in your post, too.  It’s good to know that I’m not alone in this journey.

  8. Hi, I tried to send you a mail to an address you posted on this blog earlier. Just want to check if you got it. There’s no pressure at all for a reply, I’d just like to know if it got through. šŸ™‚

  9. @Tobias – yes, it absolutely did!  so sorry my response is tardy (and will be tardy still), b/c the next couple of weeks i am SWAMPED!  but i will get back to you soon enough!  thanks for the email!

  10. Hey, no problem. I’m on holidays now anyway, so take your time. Just wanted to know that you still have that address and the mail got through

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