Anyone who has known me for very long, or very intimately, or who has dared to ask, knows that I have always been attracted to men. In September, I decided to start dating men for the first time. Many people have asked me why and I figured I would share some of my thoughts via blog, because… why not? It’s America and we all think our thoughts are so golden they must be shared with the universe.
Rules of Engagement:
1. Please do not attack anyone besides me. You can tell ME what terrible things you think of ME (I may add some bullet points you missed, in fact), but please leave my other friends alone. They are nice people. Mostly. Like you.
2. All opinions are welcomed, but please be kind. The world is too full of unkindness to litter this blog with mean things.
3. Please be intelligent. If you can only come up with a slur, perhaps you’d feel more comfortable on another blog.
4. Feel free to delete or ignore me. I promise I won’t be offended.
5. If you like this conversation, please feel free to share this blog or my name. I ain’t hiding it no more.
The Beauty of the Incarnation
Perhaps the most compelling part of Christianity is the fact that God, in His holiness, deigned to enter the messiness of a world we broke in order to show we broken folks how broken we are and guide us back into a relationship with Him. This God-entering-our-mess has been happening since the Fall. He has worked with people with infinite patience for millennia to help make something beautiful out of brokenness. For Christians, this is most starkly symbolized through the Incarnation, or Christ coming to earth in human form over 2000 years ago. But, certainly it isn’t only that one appearance. God regularly enters broken marriages to heal and recreate a new story of hope. He brings wounded, calloused abuse survivors into a new story of scars-turned-beautiful giving back to others. He lets us hurt and fight and break and heal and fight again. Each time we mess up His plan, He enters and moves us toward a new plan that is redemptive and hopeful.
I believe God’s perfect Plan A was that everyone would be heterosexual and marry one opposite-gender spouse and make 2.5 kids with an eternal puppy and fruit from the Trees of the Garden. Most of us did not get Plan A. Some of us got a version of it, but it has been revised a few times. When Plan A isn’t possible because of divorce or war or infertility or homosexuality, does that mean those people are shelved forever because Plan A is unattainable? Quite the contrary, God, in His infinite patience, enters and makes a beautiful Plan B, C, D, or ZZ. He never stops creating beauty from our messes.
I didn’t get Plan A because I wasn’t straight (by nature or by nurture, I don’t know or care, but it’s my reality). Plan B was to turn straight, which I tried whole-heartedly (holler to all my Exodus homies! I love you forever!). That didn’t work for me as it seems to have for some. Plan C was to work through my early childhood trauma in the hope that healthiness would release my true heterosexuality. Instead, I found myself wanting a healthier relationship with a man. Oops! Now I’m onto Plan D, which is to be the healthiest gay Christian man I can with the help of my Father God, who is especially fond of me.
Reading Scripture: some thoughts…
Most evangelical-types adamantly hold to a literal reading of scripture. I find this to be a potentially wonderful thing, with a potentially dangerous undercurrent. It can create an atmosphere in which we search scripture for the “right” answer to everything. Such obsession with getting it right CAN be beneficial, but can also lead to a legalism where, like the Pharisees, we carefully tithe a tenth of all our dill and cumin, and neglect the heart of the thing: to love God and love others. Love is what makes Christians (the real kind, not the socio-political category) different from others. It’s what lets me look with compassion on the person who just hurt me deeply and forgive her. It’s how I can respond with a turned cheek instead of hurting back (think Dr. King, not your church board). It’s the thing that is impossible but for the Love first shown me by God. Love is the goal and the means.
Something seismic happened in September when I shifted my focus from trying to get it perfectly right to a focus on God and His love. It has been happening slowly for years, like pressure building between tectonic plates, and culminated in the earthquake of a terrifying week that I was unsure I would survive. After that week, I knew beyond a shadow of a doubt that God, my Abba, loved me more deeply than my sexuality and that He would rather have me alive than straight. I haven’t looked back since.
Have I answered the seven verses in the Bible that speak to homosexuality? No. But there are many things I haven’t answered yet and they do not paralyze my life. I can live in the tension of these things because I know Who I have believed in and am persuaded that He is able to hold me in His love.
A note for Biblical literalists:
Divorce and remarriage is as “illegal” as homosexuality is, according to scripture. Be careful that a homophobic double standard doesn’t cloud your thinking. It may be less “icky” for you to see an elderly opposite-sex couple in double marriage receiving communion at your church than it is to see two men snuggle in the pew after receiving the Eucharist, but if you must be a literalist, please do not insult your gay co-parishioners with a double standard.
Celibacy, or marriage to one’s calling within the Church, is a high calling and should be entered into with the same discernment and trepidation as a wedding to a spouse. Don’t cheapen this calling by saying that someone who happens to be gay is “called to celibacy”. Perhaps they are, but sexual orientation does not assume a call to celibacy any more than a divorced person is magically called to celibacy because they cannot “legally” remarry, according to scripture.
Here I find myself: looking for love, messy as ever, loved by Abba to the point of ridiculousness, and still trying to figure it out. I can’t wait to have a beer with Christ in heaven and talk this out with Him. He’s going to either say “Good job, kiddo. You did the best you could with what you were given. Welcome!” or “Brad, my dear son, you really messed that one up. Welcome!” I hope to see you there listening in on that conversation after I listen in on your conversation with Him over what has troubled you your whole life.
Those conversations are going to be pretty rad.