Sunday, June 29, 2008

Take Heart!

I have told you these things, so that in me you may have 
peace.  In this world you will have trouble.  But take heart!  
I have overcome the world.
John 16.33

It's Not Easy
Being gay and following Christ is tough. Neither of them is easy to begin with. But when we elect to do both--to hold on to our God-given identities and pursue our calling as believers--we're asking for trouble. Our problems have nothing to do with God or us.  They rise from whose who refuse to believe (or seriously doubt) it's possible to follow Jesus and live an open, healthy, and active gay life.

Staring at all this trouble, we're tempted to forget the whole thing. But Jesus told us to expect trouble. Whether we like or not, if we deserve it or not, it's headed our way. It comes with the territory; it's part and parcel with living in the world.

Our Defender
Job said, "Man born of woman is of few days and full of trouble." (Job 14.1)  He should know. His faith cost him everything, including his family. He found himself in the miserable company of friends trying to convince him he was wrong to trust God's grace and mercy.  Yet Job couldn't be dissuaded.  In spite of all his troubles and everything he saw, he held fast to his faith.  He told the troublemakers around him, "I know my Redeemer [or, "Defender"] lives, and that in the end he will stand upon the earth." (Job 19.25)

As unorthodox, often ostracized believers, we need to follow Job's example: know what we know and leave it at that.  We don't need to defend ourselves, because our Defender lives.  He has overcome the world.  Instead of taking sides in pointless debates about who can or can't follow Christ, we should do as He says: take heart!

Personal Postscript: Stonewall

The Legacy of a Courageous Few
I purposefully launched this blog on the 39th anniversary weekend of the Stonewall Riots.  On June 28, 1969, I was a nine-year-old Pentecostal preacher's kid in Chicago.  That a handful of gay men--most of them non-white and drag queens--resisted the harassment of New York's Finest didn't register the slightest blip on my personal or family radar.  Not until several years later was I even aware of Stonewall and what it signified.  By the time I dealt with my sexuality and came out, the courageous defiance that Stonewall triggered made the world a much different, more secure place for young homosexuals like me.  Along with the world at large and every non-heterosexual in it, I owe an enormous debt of gratitude to the Stonewall Inn's brave patrons, as well as those who joined the ranks early-on in the struggle for gay equality.

At first, the movement adopted the banner of "gay liberation," but it evolved over time into "gay pride"--rejecting the idea that gay, lesbian, bisexual, and transgendered people should live in shadows of shame and fear.  I'm firmly convinced that GLBT people have no cause for shame.  Like every straight man and woman, we were created by God and, as His handiwork, have every reason to be proud.

Gay Pride and God Pride
But this leads to another question: Why haven't more openly gay believers come out of the faith closet?  Many of us sequester our belief from our sexuality, or vice versa.  Either we hide who we are from our straight brothers and sisters in Christ, or we hide our faith from our gay brothers and sisters in the community.  We go to churches--many of them devoutly anti-gay--where we identify as "single;" in secular situations--many of them devoutly anti-religious--we demurely claim to be "spiritual."

Why are so many of us so afraid to be openly gay and openly Christian at the same time?  If we really intend to follow Jesus, we should do what He says.  He has told us these things to give us peace.  He has overcome the world.  There's no reason to worry about what others think or say.  As believers, we need to ask ourselves: does my gay pride mean anything without God pride?

Stonewall, early hours of June 28, 1969; New York Times
article (6/29/69).


jv said...

good luck w/ the blog. Wish you big success.

Anonymous said...

I've never actually read the first post before! Usually, if my reader doesn't have anything new from you when I wake up, I just jump over here and click on a random post.

I've been praying for you and Walt all week while you're on your vacation. I've decided that, even though you're not my pastor in the "traditional" sense, you are one of Christ's helper-shepherd's with a ministry of your own. So I'm thinking I'll continue to pray for you daily.

Wear plenty of sunscreen!

Tim said...


Yep, this was the first one... I actually haven't read it in months and months myself!

Thanks for your prayers! (And, being as it's 90 in the shade today, the sunscreen advice is ever so timely!)

We're headed home Saturday and will be back up and running by Monday (I hope).

Be blessed my brother,