family talk

I probably don’t need to give a play-by-play transcript of the conversation I had with the pastor of counseling and his wife; I would most likely portray them less graciously than they deserve. It seems to be the case with these kinds of encounters that it is far easier to recount the perceived failures of the other. So pardon my vague summaries.

My mom had asked me if I would be willing to sit down with them so we could work through some of our disagreements about sexuality and holiness without placing unnecessary strain on our relationship. To my mom’s credit, she had no idea how intense the conversation was going to get.

Basically, the counselors’ position was that I was choosing to be gay, choosing to remain in sin, by not attempting to change my orientation through biblical counseling. Honestly, their conclusions are logical given certain foundational beliefs. They make no moral distinction between being attracted to the same sex and engaging in gay romance/sex. Thus, all of those sin lists in the New Testament condemn any person who experiences same-sex attractions. The counselors understand all sin as coming from the willful desires of the heart, and my attraction to men is no different. That means homosexuality must be a choice, according to the Bible.

When the words, “You chose to be attracted to men!” flew into the heated air, I lost any hope for the meeting. I appealed to the plethora of psychological studies, many of which were conducted by conservative Evangelicals, but the moment I did hands hit open Bibles and I was told, “The Bible tells us everything we need to know.” Neuroscience didn’t get me any farther. It was my first Bible-thumping experience, which was exciting.

[edit] As a side note, I felt like I needed to make it clear that I do believe that I have chosen to do things that have contributed to the strength of my homosexual desires. I simply cannot locate all causality in a biological fixedness free of human agency. So, in a way, I don’t entirely disagree with them, although we diverge at a very crucial juncture.

Two hours of disagreement later, all that had been accomplished was convincing them that I had succumbed to a great and sinful lie and was rejecting the true healing power of the Gospel, and convincing me that clinging to a rhetoric of “choosing to be gay” is going to do more damage to the church than I had previously thought.

We realized we had no reason to continue the conversation, made some more small talk, hugged, shook hands, and parted.

Here’s the thing: I’m not interested in making this a me vs. them encounter. There has to be a way to hold such diametrically opposed notions of truth while still affirming the common bond of Christ between us. More than anything, this is what I am trying to learn from the experience. I drove home annoyed, frustrated, hurt, and more determined than ever not to become bitter. We are a family. We are united together by the saving work of Jesus, and that is where I have to begin and end as I process everything.

This is not a war. This is not about “factions” or “teams” or “winning.” I think it was easier for me to feel that way about the topic before I encountered men and women that I respect who strongly believe things that I find repulsive. However much I want to be horribly offended by what went down, there’s really no point. I want to be, don’t get me wrong, but to nurse the feeling of being mistreated would require me to look past what I know to be true about the nature of the Church, the necessity of forgiveness, and the intentions of the counselors. I found their words offensive, yes, but that doesn’t mean I have to stay offended; such a disposition is rooted in pride and will merely hinder the process of growth and reconciliation.

This isn’t the same thing as rolling over and acquiescing. I firmly let them know that I thought their words were only going to harm the witness of the Gospel. But this is a distinctly “in-family” conversation, and it is imperative we remember that. If we expect the world to be willing to have civil discussions with us about homosexuality, if we want to be respected even in our disagreements, then we must examine ourselves first.

I don’t want to go through anything like that again; it stings with the force of a sharp, iron barb being shoved through my core. But I might, and I need to be prepared to respond to each person in love and humility, no exceptions.

Thanks for the prayers and encouraging words! I’m doing really, really well by the grace of God. I won’t be home for more than a week during the next nine months, so I’m turning my focus toward other interests that make me come alive.

My contribution to this blog will probably become a bit more sporadic, though I’ll shoot for writing something once a week. But once I land in Africa I’m not sure what will be possible. This was a blessed summer. My time spent in the local church, though not always easy, has only served to increase my love of God and commitment to serving the church in general. What more could I ask for?

Jordan

And please forgive the typos, I wrote this on a iPad. I have the finger dexterity of a sloth wearing mittens.

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13 thoughts on “family talk

  1. Your Christlike response is beautiful and a great commentary to the power of the Holy Spirit at work in you. I continue to pray for you to draw close to our Savior for His strength and love for you. Take good care and as the speaker at graduation said, live dangerously for Him who lived dangerously for us as well as the cloud of witnesses who cheer us on.
    Christine

  2. Jordan… Sooooooo awesome!!!! You’re doing so well!!! Fighting this spiritual war making sure you love even those who disagree with you and hurt you. I praise you! You man of God who fears the Lord!

    The Christ manifested in you taking hits and forgiving, truly is a beautiful sight and I praise the Lord for you 😉

    I am happy to be walking this earth with brothers like you keep up the good work 😉

    God bless you brother have a great time UN Africa!!;)

  3. IN college, I (male) tried to choose to be attracted to men, mostly to broaden my options (not giving up on women, just thought I’d give bisexuality a try. Twice as many potential partners! More sex!). I had been asked out by a couple of guys, so I took them up on their offer (individually, to clarify). They were smart, witty, fun, and even good looking. But when it came down to sexy-time, I just wasn’t interested. I was doomed to a life of heterosexuality, it seems. Now, I tell my gay friends not to hate me, because I didn’t choose to be straight. I was born that way. I could no more choose to be gay than I could choose to be a blue crab. I do not believe, not for a second, that homosexuality is a choice. Either you are, or you’re not. I have many gay friends, and I love them a lot, but I am just not sexually attracted to the men.

  4. That’s an absolutely beautiful response, Jordan. Really inspiring to me, and I hope if I ever encounter viewpoints like you did, that I will respond similarly. I’ve had inklings of it, and that’s already been enough to frustrate me and make me want to rant at people. But I really liked what you said about not nursing the hurt that you feel, because the Church is so much greater than all of that. We have the tough calling to love the Church, even when we’re not pretty, because Jesus loved us first.

    Thanks again for sticking strong and close to God.

  5. I’s so sorry to hear about this man. Breaks my heart. As a black man I know what it’s like to encounter pride and selfish love in the Body. I hope that our brothers and sisters who disagree with you will be convicted to take on the same love for the Body that you have.

    SDG.

    Mo.

  6. This is such a beautiful response. I don’t know if you’ve ever read this blog or not http://www.stevegershom.com, but he’s a man who is a Christian who also deals with Same-Sex Attraction and has a big heart for God and others. He understands it’s his cross to bear.

    Perhaps he could help you learn to talk to your family and friends.

    Peace be upon you.

    (Here’s one of my favorites. http://www.stevergershom.com/2010/12/a-dry-tree/ )

  7. Jordan: Good that you sound fine after the rough moments you have been through lately.Thanks be to God. I wish you have a good experience in Africa.
    About your meeting it reminded me of a priest that was really a good guy. He was the sort of person that you want not to miss a word of his talking, Hearing him was like hearing the loving God speaking: you wanted to hear more and more. However on a day I was feeling really awfull and with suicidal thoughts I heard him speaking “unwisely” about homosexuality. I had the opportunity of going to confession with him and we talked about the issue. From my anguish at that moment I think he changed his perspective and turned out to be very understanding after that. Though your case had a different ending sometimes even those who are suposed to give us some light in tough matters might fail, be wrong and, as in your case cause pain and confusion. I completely share and I hope I can also have always in mind your comment “their words were offensive, yes, but that doesn’t mean I have to stay offended; such a disposition is rooted in pride and will merely hinder the process of growth and reconciliation”.
    Otherwise of course we’ll get full of anger and will begin to argue to show our point, but, I think, this is not neccessary. You are surely contributing for the salvation of many of us and what a nice thing that you don’t keep these stones in your heart.

  8. Agh! It hurts me to hear this. I’m so sorry. 😦

    You are dealing with it with such grace. I admire this. I probably would have given them the middle finger. Which is probably not the most Christ-like response.

    Keep on chuggin’. You’ll be in my prayers.

  9. This reminds me of how my battle with depression for the past 12 years has gone. I was literally kicked off the worship team because my depression was flaring and life circumstances weren’t helping, either. I was told that I was not choosing joy, I was harboring a spirit of negativity, and etc etc etc. It was always something I did, something I wasn’t doing, something I could do differently. I was eventually healed of depression… Well, I think. I know there was pretty much a season of life where it got REALLY bad, and then it got WAY better, like a lightswitch was hit. And I just came out of that season.
    All this to say, I agree with you. I know for certain that my depression is partially biologically linked, but also circumstantially linked through some incredibly traumatic events from my childhood. I warred and prayed and “responded in the opposite spirit” and did anything anyone was telling me to do and it did not go away. So I was not doing enough, apparently, and all that did was make me more hopeless because all my efforts were unto nothing, and I was still being looked down upon. The only thing I refused to do was take medications, because working in the medical field, knowing people who were on this or that, I really didn’t see that helping me.
    Not 100% the same, but it feels similar, reading what you’re going through. Anyways. I’m praying for y’all. Whether you find your healing or not, I’m praying you have strength in your journey of obedience and that it actually brings reconciliation between the church and those with SSA. They see dry bones… but if there are more men like you folks, to me that looks like an army. People willing to deny their flesh, remain obedient to God, love fiercely in the face of rejection… Fight to see something difficult as a gift that can be given to God… We need more people with that kind of devotion.

    You can do this.

  10. Interesting. So why were you offended? Because they believed something that wasn’t true? Or because they were disrespectful towards you, wouldn’t listen to you? Or because they were irrational, abused scripture, and were – to put it bluntly – bad Christians, who wouldn’t listen to reason/truth, and wouldn’t listen to Christ (the author of reason)? Or do you just accept that human reason is corrupted by sin, so all anyone can do is muddle along with faith as best he can, since the duty to be reasonable is not part of living a genuine Christian life?

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