before the dawn comes

I’ve always wondered what it must have been like to live in that nauseous limbo between the first Good Friday and Easter Sunday, to wake up with the image of a limp and bloodied messiah (though maybe…false messiah?) etched into my vision without the healing salve of resurrection to bring significance and peace to the roiling ache.

How quickly would my trust and devotion bleed out of me to join the crimson mud beneath the cross of the dead man? Would I flinch at every little sound, just waiting for the soldiers or violent crowd to begin their search for the remnants of the incendiary prophet’s followers? And if they came to my door, what would I say? Would I bathe in a desperate mixture of tears, doubt, and denial so the angel of death might pass my miserable self by?

Would I despair?

Would I allow the dark current to pull me under?

Would I be able to keep living in a world suddenly and viciously rendered absurd?

I don’t know. It seems like the only honest answer that could be given on a day of lightless uncertainty.

But then: pulse. movement, speech, rumors, hope appearance touch restoration new-life.

And there is no going back, no undoing of this stark watershed of history. We now live in the irrevocable abundance of the resurrection, flushed with the infinite wonder of redemption.

Redemption – the miracle in which darkness augments the beauty of in-breaking light, suffering produces a hope that does not disappoint, and doubt becomes an invitation to venture trembling fingers into eternal scars of love.

Holy Saturday is a day to dwell on silence. For me, it is a day to confront my fear of silence, my anxiety that God has left me on my own to muddle through life. And yet, the resurrection has come: the hushed cosmos erupting into endless praise for what God has done.

I’m reminded that even in the tortured silence of Holy Saturday God was moving to break the chains of separation and dissolve the power of death.

So when I find myself wounded, sitting in a too-quiet room with a disquieted mind wondering why or why not, I can cling to the comfort that such doubt is not a shameful, disturbing departure from Christian life but is and always has been a part of our history. The question is, though, whether or not I will be faithful and keep my eyes and ears open even in the midst of the intense darkness or struggle because I have the promise that God has not, will not ever, abandon me and that some day, whether tomorrow or in eternity, I will see what beauty he was working in and through me and will be in awe of it all.

Easter Sunday doesn’t dismiss the anguish of Holy Saturday, but gives it purpose and direction. The resurrection doesn’t negate the suffering of life, but gives us the strength to declare that even in the throes of our suffering there is hope and the beauty of redemption; tear-choked voices can find a song, bruised feet can learn to dance, and weary hearts can beat with passion.

A day of silence, a day of pain, a day of honesty, a day of hope.

Blessings.

Jordan

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other

Sometimes I forget that I’m gay.

Seriously. I’ll just be walking around, doing my thing, thinking about coffee or tennis or sleep or whatever, and suddenly:

Wait a second, I’m attracted to guys. Woah.

Then I resume my espresso daydream and life goes on. I probably don’t need to explain why such an occurrence is a little odd.

I mean, I’m going to just assume that straight people don’t know what it’s like to spend all day worrying over how straight they feel and wondering if other people can tell. “Oh crap, a beautiful woman! Was I staring? I think I was. Was someone watching me stare? Everyone must have noticed my eyes dilate. That man over there looks like he’s judging me. Great, now I have to leave the country…” “Did I play this sport too competently? Ugh, I hate myself…” “That old woman said she had a niece I should meet… does she think I like girls? How did she find out? Oh god, what if she tells my mom?” “Maybe if I just wear scarves and skinny-jeans no one will question my sexuality.”

But I could be wrong.

Either way, I used to be entirely preoccupied with image-control. I was almost always aware that I didn’t quite fit in and, therefore, pathologically tried to disguise that otherness, certain that should people find out I was gay the internal isolation that scraped and slithered around my brain would become an external reality and encompass me.

But a couple things are happening now: I am feeling less “other,” and my otherness is slowly shedding the fear and stigma of its youth.

I am not saying I expect, or even hope, to ever be “non-other”. Not at all. So long as I’m attracted to men, and so long as the late Jerry Fallwell’s elite team of ninjas succeeds in stopping President Obama’s diabolical plan to infect America’s drinking water with the gay gene, I will experience the otherness that comes from being a sexual minority until I die. However, such difference is no longer an inevitable occasion for anxiety because it is starting to reveal its role in the grand unfolding of God’s grace in my life.

(It is necessary to say that, even though I will be referring to “otherness” in the abstract, I can really only speak to my particular experience as an evangelical Christian man attracted to men – which is a reality that doesn’t externally mark me for marginalization. More than that, I happen to have inherited almost every other kind of socio-cultural privilege imaginable, which has, I am sure, significantly diminished the potency of my experience with “otherness.” While I may find myself occasionally camping in the margins, I do so with a $500 tent.)

The reason I’m even commenting on these brief flashes of “unawareness” or whatever-it-is, of not being consumed with feelings of “otherness,” is because this is the last place I expected to experience something like this. I flew down to Central America alone, re-entered “la bodega”, and have daily come up against rampant and incessant homophobia from the teenage boys I live with (and Central America’s machismo culture in general) – a recipe for angst and feeling super-gay and isolated. And yet…

I’m intrigued by the fact that I can feel so at home in my body while in a context where, honestly, I think bad things would happen if it got out that I’m gay. I’m experiencing almost-ideal self-perception in regard to my sexuality* in a less-than-ideal environment to be gay because, I think, they do one thing really well at the orphanage: work with the kids through diverse gifts and histories. I may not be “out” here, but the fact that I’m gay, and the way I’ve grown and deepened because of that fact,** has enabled me to serve these kids in a manner that is different from other staff members and yet still important and valued – namely, I tend to be more aware of how certain kids are being pushed to the fringes, more aggressive against bullying, and less rough in my behavior toward even the most obnoxious boys (one of whom, as I type, is randomly pressing buttons on my computer forcing me to engage in manic typo-prevention).

This is why I think the Church has so much to offer those attracted to the same sex.***  So many people can only dull the ache of difference by staying in communities comprised of those who are equally “other” and thus experience a kind of normativity.**** Though the Church does, in some ways, serve a similar function, it does not do so through the normalization or flattening of otherness; the Gospel is not about homogenization (this is one reason I think we have four notoriously idiosyncratic Gospels accounts), it’s about redemption, conformation, and scandalous equality before God.

I don’t love Christian community because I get to spend time with people “just like me,” though Christ-followers do share certain unshakeable foundations. I love Christian community because it reminds me that I am united in purpose and worship with a bunch of crazy people around the world who aren’t like me at all and who reveal Christ to me in ways that would be otherwise unknown.

In this community my otherness, once an occasion for feelings of distance and loneliness, can, and should, take its rightful place as a site of revelation of the goodness and beauty of God. And thus, somehow, otherness – the multiform, embodied experience of being wrongly marginalized for one reason or another – becomes a catalyst for a more profound unity and depth. And while I hesitate to ascribe any sort of moral exceptionalism to marginalization, we must acknowledge that we serve a Christ who seemed far more at home on the dusty fringes than in the cushioned halls of privilege.

There is so, so much more to this, and I apologize for all the nuance I couldn’t include in less than 1000 words.

But I want to finish by saying that I am hopeful. I am hopeful that the Church (specifically the North American church) will become less concerned with the maintenance of social power and position and more passionate about proclaiming the Gospel through myriad stories of redemption lived out in a community dedicated to loving service of the world.

Jordan

Edit – Please do not think I am glossing over the gross sins of the church in regard to the LGBTQ community or the serious hurdles we face as we try to move forward in love. For slightly more critical posts, see What Is Love (which I think is one of the most important posts I’ve written), and Family Talk, among others.

* Almost-ideal not in that I forget that I’m gay, but in that my sexuality does not dominate my self-perception as it used to.

** Though such growth and depth are, I would say, the result of interacting with my sexuality through the primary and total filter of my Christian faith.

*** Aside from the, you know, relationship with Jesus and eternal life and all that.

**** I’m not saying such communities are bad. Not at all. In many ways they can be both necessary and life-giving. I greatly benefitted from my time in the gay student-group at Wheaton, which is but one example among many. I just don’t think they are an adequate substitute for what the church is called to be.

ugly

The waiter hands me the receipt, folded over my credit card, and looks me in the eye as he tells me to have a nice day. I wish him the same, then weave my way between the haphazardly placed tables toward the exit of the crowded Thai restaurant.

A hundred feet from the entrance I casually pull out the still-creased lunch bill, make sure neither of my friends is watching me, and unfold it. Date, cost, tax… no phone number. That odd, electric feeling fades, thirty minutes after it first flared up. As it bleeds out of me and mixes with the dirtied rainwater running to the nearby drain, a cold disappointment takes its place. I am so, so, so stupid! I’m a ridiculous infant! What did I expect, what did I want? But I knew the answer to those questions already: I wanted to be flirted with, and I wanted to throw away his number. I wanted to know I was attractive, desirable, intriguing…something… with the easy out of not having to actually deal with the guy.

Semi-flirting (if it could even be called that…which it probably can’t) with the waiter was immature, selfish, and, retrospectively, embarrassingly laughable (emphasis on embarrassing… and laughable). Hey, I’d never been in New York City before, and I assumed that was just how things happened there.

But there was something more profound going on amidst the foolishness. I’ve talked frequently, both on the blog and in real life, about how important it is for Christians attracted to the same sex to turn to the infinite beauty and desirability of Christ when they find themselves longing after someone. I’m not suggesting God’s love for us is a direct substitute for the good of human romantic/marital love – it is of a different character entirely – but for those of us who are giving up romance and sexual intimacy, the natural ends of attractions, such a practice is a redemptive act that allows us to still affirm our sexuality as good and holy.

However, there is an obvious flip side to all of this that I have mostly taken for granted and not explored. For me, wanting to have someone toward whom I can direct all of my romantic and sexual impulses is only half of it, and it’s often the less compelling half. On a daily basis I struggle with feelings of being, you know, ugly. I can usually tell how I’m doing mentally and spiritually depending on my initial reaction to looking at myself in a mirror. Consequently, I can be horribly vain, switching clothes multiple times in a few minutes, moving my hair around (when it isn’t cropped super short), or just staring at myself trying to figure out what is wrong with me, why I can’t seem to shut out the whispering informants of my insecurity detailing the million little imperfections that render me particularly undesirable.

Praise God the fog is lifting, slowly, and I’m becoming more comfortable in my skin, learning to love it, rejoice in it, admire it. But I have a long way to go. I don’t perceive myself as attractive to women (or I am simply oblivious to any hints they give to the contrary…which is not unlikely), and my life would be easier if I weren’t attractive to men (thus I don’t ever think it could be true). So, for me, it would be effortless to become fixated on feelings of being “non-attractive,” so to speak.

But just as I think trying to suppress all sexual desire to be an improper response to my homosexuality, I think it is harmful for me to perceive my desire to be desired as unavoidably problematic. It, too, must be redemptively redirected, turning me to dwell on the overwhelming fact that God. Loves. Me. He desires me. Me, of all people, and not for anything that I’ve done for him.

And that’s enough. I know it’s enough. Will I ever get to a point where that truth is more arresting than all the inventions of my mind? I don’t expect it to ever completely replace my longing to be the exclusive locus of someone’s affection, but I don’t think it should. Giving up sex and romance is always a sacrifice. It’s not just that I miss out on being able to fully give myself to another human, I also won’t know what it’s like to have someone find me so enthralling that they would be willing to become one flesh with me, to unite in a bizarre, sacred, holy way.

But! Isn’t it the blessed truth that Christ is willing to unite himself with me, with all who follow him? Isn’t it true that whenever I find myself longing to be desired, longing to be looked upon with love, I can cling to the assurance that the most pure and awesome love is already enfolded around me, piercing through me, and lifting me up? The best reaction to my desires is not to fear them, squash them, or hate them, but neither is it to try and become unshakably confident of how humanly desirable I am. Such responses would only contribute to the vanity spiral, turning me evermore inward. I am desirable to God because Christ lived, died, and rose again to reconcile me to himself.

Every part of my life should serve to point me to the work of Jesus, and this is no different. It can seem slightly more distant, slightly more abstract than is helpful, but it is anything but that – it is as near and real as Christ is.

The process of writing this post was very much an exercise in preaching to myself. I need to learn this, and I need to learn it every day, over and over and over. I have had many moments since that afternoon in New York, weeks ago, where I’ve found myself sinking into the same patterns of thought, and though I haven’t been perfect by any means, God has been good to help me find some encouragement in turning to him in those moments. And that, for me, is truly sufficient.

Jordan

pain

“If acting on your homosexual attractions is really such a terrible sin, why are so many people who deny themselves same-sex romance depressed or constantly anxious? When Christians faithfully combat greed, lust, rage, or any other sin, isn’t there supposed to be a feeling of liberation, of joy, or of peace? If you really were doing God’s will, don’t you think it would make you feel better, more content, rather than crippled by a compelling and unfulfilled longing?”

This is a composite question made from various opinions I’ve heard over the last few years. The basic idea is that sin is bad, purging sinful habits and desires is what God wants, and doing what God wants should result in happiness and feelings of freedom. And yet most men and women who are not acting on their same-sex attraction have been terribly depressed in the past, are currently depressed, or are planning on being depressed some time in the near future.

So… isn’t that the opposite of what’s supposed to happen? Isn’t that maybe a sign that we who hold to the conservative ethic should reexamine how we are living?

The correct answer is not, “God doesn’t care about happiness, he only cares about holiness! So buck up camper, sanctification is gonna hurt, and you’d better like it.” That approach to pain makes God sound way too much like my 5th grade P.E. teacher.

Pain is a part of Christian life, of human life, and it can produce astounding growth and glory when responded to with a faithful turning to God. But I am increasingly convinced that pain is never an end, never a good in and of itself. Evangelicals have, at times, idolized pain. The beauty of people worshiping joyfully in the midst of suffering is such a potent symbol of Christian devotion that we begin to see that suffering itself as a desirable thing, almost. Pain isn’t to be avoided at all costs. No. But I don’t see Jesus modeling any sort of holy masochism either.

For so long I thought the secret to living the chastely single life was to get used to the pain, to learn how to love it, because that’s just the way it was going to be. But that blinded me from seeing that the pain was actually the result of some pretty terrible things from which God wanted to free me. I thought misery was standard for people like me because that’s the message I was hearing from every side.

Pain arises for so many different reasons. It could occur because of poor personal decisions (I shoot myself in the knee), because of the sins of others (Blaine Anderson dreamily, but sinfully, shoots me in the knee), because of some uncontrollable event (lightning strikes me in the knee), or a host of other physical, emotional, social, or spiritual reasons. Sometimes pain is inexplicable and simply must be endured, and sometimes pain is a sure signal that we should immediately remove ourselves from that which hurts us. The human experience of suffering is staggering in its multiformity, but I’m going to focus on the common turmoil of gay men and women who share my convictions.

When I was in the midst of my season of despair (the first three years of college), should my pain have caused me to “reexamine” how I was living, what convictions I held to and why? Yes, absolutely. That part of the suggestion is dead on. I think all pain is an opportunity to reflect and grow; it’s a warning that something isn’t quite right. Was some of my pain due to the presence of distressingly strong attractions and my refusal to just “let them be”? Totally. A lot of people want me to think, therefore, that the solution to my angst is to remove the friction and become open to a future of same-sex romance.

When you are caught in the teeth of a deep sadness, such a suggestion can seem rather compelling because often the things you are denying yourself, even if it’s for a good reason, become more obvious and alluring in those moments and the will weakens. However, I had a mentor who lovingly reminded me that my homosexuality was one of the least of my “worries.” He rightly saw to the heart of things: to my desperate emotional dependence, my blistering self-loathing, my lack of trust, and my personal assortment of medical issues. Those things generated the pain that would often manifest itself in times of confusion surrounding my sexuality.

Looking back on it, I can only think of a few isolated surges of darkness caused predominantly by my commitment to leaving the option of gay romance off the table, and even then there were unresolved issues of lust and mistrust augmenting the emotions. What is more, as I’ve found healing in those aforementioned areas of struggle (which, just for honesty’s sake, are still not the strangers I would like them to be) I really have experienced the profound sense of joy and freedom that I had been told would come from ditching the archaic, inhumane convictions that guide my sexual practices (or lack thereof). On top of that, my convictions have only grown stronger as I’ve been more convinced of the great goodness of God and his brain-vaporizing faithfulness.

I know there will be dark days in the future that are tied to my convictions. But this past year has shown me that such darkness is not the inevitable pattern of my life as a chastely single gay Christian and that, in those moments, there is usually something else going on that is symptomatic of deeper issues.

I hesitate to post this because, well, I’m just a 22 year-old guy. There’s a lot of life I haven’t experienced, a lot of pain that hasn’t yet ripped into my psyche and challenged everything I know to be true. There are also many people whose personal histories might tell a radically different story than mine. I’m not trying to be arrogant, acting as if I’ve got it all figured out. I simply want to propose three things:

1) The conservative ethic does not and should not breed despair.
2) Often the suffering of people pursuing the more conservative vision is grounded in experiences and pain that wouldn’t be “solved” by pursuing a romantic relationship.
3) My own commitment to a chaste singleness is truly a source of a very real joy and calm in my life, but this didn’t really come to fruition until I found some freedom from actual causes of emotional and spiritual corrosion.

I hope that makes sense, I’m a little tired at the moment.

This post was brought to you by the tunes of Shiny Toy Guns (We Are Pilots. Their new stuff is terrible), AWOLNATION, Wicked, Two Door Cinema Club, and the delicate string and piano arrangements of Joe Hisaishi’s musical scores. Also, the letter B.

Jordan

P.S. I realized as I concluded this that Steve Gershom already wrote a similar post on his ever-blessed blog. You can find it here. He uses the word gregarious, which is delightful. This only reinforces my suspicion that the singular reason I’ve ever written about anything ever is that I’m simply oblivious to the fact that someone else has already done a better job of writing about it.

friend requests

Have you ever had the feeling that you’re a needy, emotional burden to everyone around you? That even though people constantly tell you they love you, that you’re great, that they want to hang out, and that they really care about the relationship, you find it hard to believe them? That, secretly, they all find you just as absurd, annoying, and overbearing as you find yourself? That one day they will all leave you, and you’ll be completely alone?

If you know this kind of mind-crushing neurosis all too well, then I’m so sorry. I hope you are doing ok, and not curled up in a gutter somewhere listening to Evanescence on repeat (totally been there). If you haven’t personally experienced what I’m talking about, then let me introduce you to a very common social reality for people who are same-sex attracted (though certainly not exclusive to them!). I will be speaking from personal experience, but I have heard numerous, similar stories from other gay men and women. But still, this is not applicable to everyone.

In the middle of the second semester of my Junior year, I wrote a list. In it I detailed the thirty things I was sure my friends hated about me. (If I do say so myself, it was an admirably incisive compilation of personal defects.) But how did I land myself in such darkness when I really was surrounded by truly dear brothers and sisters who loved me?

A large part of it was that I had ingested early in life the poisonous lie that I was unlovable. Growing up attracted to the same sex in a society that is often overwhelmingly homophobic can lead to some pretty terrible image problems. It was so easy to believe that I was disgusting for having these feelings, that I carried some atrocious blight in my chest that marked me for a deserved isolation and shame.

This potent stigma was not simply erased by one good coming-out experience… or two, or three, or twenty. It spread to almost every area of my life and became a part of my very identity. Years of believing lies about myself could not be undone by isolated moments of truth. Rather, the fear had to be slowly worn away by daily affirmations of worth and the consistent, pursuing presence of those who cared for me.

In his excellent book Love is an Orientation, Andrew Marin talks about how one of the persistent questions in a gay person’s life is “Will you leave me?” Men and women who pursue same-sex romantic relationships are afraid their actions will cause their family and friends to abandon them, while men and women committed to remaining single are afraid that everyone around them will make no room in their lives to include them, consigning them to the lonely hell of watching happy families flourish from behind a one-way mirror. The latter nightmare was my own.

It is unbelievably important to be a relentless and affirming presence in the lives of gay friends and family. Often the entire weight of a terrifying future bears down on their present life, turning small social barbs into serrated spears, innocent silences into damning judgments.

I’m not saying this is “ok” – relationships are not meant to bear the weight of limitless anxieties of the unknown – but it is common and must be born out in love. People working through scary issues of great social significance are frequently aware that they are unreasonably “needy,” which only compounds their sense of guilt and shame. I felt like a crazy person for being unable to trust even my dearest friends. At one point I even collapsed outside of my apartment from sheer mental anguish, having exhausted myself trying to figure out the state of one of my friendships. I was sinfully anxious (says Captain Obvious) and had made it impossible for him not to fail me in some ways, but healing only began to come when I admitted that I wasn’t entirely crazy for feeling like that.

You see, one of the most horribly difficult things I have ever had to do is actually admit my closest friend had let me down me in very real ways. It took a whole month of a therapist and two mentors arguing with me for me to finally say, “Ok, maybe he let me down a little. I mean, maybe. I guess, if you put it that way, I dunno……..” So I had to talk to him about it, or else.

Do you know how stupid hard it is for me to tell someone (who I am afraid thinks I’m an emotional lamprey) that he isn’t treating me like the friend he claimed to want to be? It’s about as difficult as licking my elbow. Some people can do it naturally (freaks!) but I would require surgery; in this case some serious heart surgery.[1] But here’s the thing, by being willing to, one more time, go to him and graciously express my disappointments and confusion I was showing that I trusted him and believed he was who he said he was.

Now, I’d had conversations like that with him before with little effect. That’s what made it so difficult! Everything in me wanted to think he only kept humoring me out of some sense of obligation to make sure poor, insane Jordan wasn’t totally alone. Because I didn’t totally trust him, I prefaced each previous conversation with an “I’m sorry I’m so burdensome and certifiably insane” clause. When you doubt your own worth, it seems too risky, too dangerous, to let blame fall on anyone but yourself.

The tone of that final discussion, though, was different; I didn’t qualify my pain with declarations of self-inflicted delusion. I finally let go of the burden of trying to manage both sides of the relationship, and was simply honest. He could have hurt me terribly in that moment. God knows I half-expected it. But you know what? He rose up and bore the responsibility for his actions, for his part of the relationship, and committed to working through the tension with me. It’s weird how relationships are so much healthier when one person doesn’t feel like he has to carry the weight of the whole thing.

I was graceless to myself by internalizing the blame for everything, and I was graceless to him by refusing to treat him as the friend he wanted to be for me. Our mutual willingness to admit our faults during that conversation, to let responsibility lay where it should, and to forgive deeply, were all essential components to me finally breaking free from that cursed cycle of self-loathing and mistrust. The purpose of being honest about who sinned, and how, is ultimately that there might be true forgiveness and reconciliation, not so that one person is vindicated and the other shamed.

But I couldn’t have made it without his help. He had to apologize for some legitimate mistakes and he had to make a concerted effort to change behavioral patterns that were unhelpful. Praise God, he remains to this day as one of my absolutely closest friends who has been with me through almost the entire process of coming to grips with my sexuality. He consistently points me to focus only on Christ and shows me through his actions how life-giving it is to be selflessly inclusive and encouraging. I owe him a lot, and I wouldn’t be who I am today without him. I asked him for permission before posting all of this. (If you’re reading this, man, I love you so much and think the world of you. Thank you.)

I hope this has been helpful, somehow. Relationships are surprisingly resistant to summary. To clarify:

– Gay men and women are often plagued by fears about the future that amplify the anxiety surrounding present relationships.

– Such fears can be sinful, though they are largely uncontrollable, and they are frequently validated when friends actually fail (which everyone will at some point).

–  Both people need to be willing to do some uncomfortable things to move toward healing. The person who feels abandoned must refuse to believe the lies of worthlessness, trusting the friend if he says he is committed to the friendship, and acting accordingly. The other person must be patient with the recurring anxiety and be willing to apologize and make a real effort to move away from harmful behavior.

– Both people need to be disciplined enough to ask for wise counsel, and be mature enough to be the first to apologize (though, honestly, one person will almost always be too apologetic).

– Moving forward is a matter of both people committing to greater openness and humility

I am definitely no relationship guru, but these are just some small things I’ve learned.

Relationships can be the greatest barrier or the greatest asset to a healthy understanding of God. My friends have shown me love beyond anything my early fears permitted me to dream. Their endless hugs and affirmation were central to me finally believing that God loved and affirmed me and was holding me in his arms. It wasn’t always easy, and almost never painless, but I wouldn’t replace them with anyone (you know who you are!).

Jordan


[1] Somewhere in there I grew to hate that analogy.

my gay theology

First, I just want to say how humbled I am by the response this blog has already received — around 2,000 views. And this is only about 24 hours after my introductory post. This tells me that people are hungry to understand the Christian faith in relation to homosexuality. I do believe that this is perhaps the most important issue that faces the Church today. One commenter mentioned that some fear it may be the downfall of the Church. I refuse to believe that. I have hope that if we seriously, critically engage this topic, then our interaction with homosexuality will demonstrate the best rather than the worst of the Church and that we will still remain committed to good theology. I know this is possible because I have seen some of the best of the Church through my Christian friends who have loved me dearly despite being gay.

It is also scary to have so many viewers so quickly. So I ask for the prayers of many because I want this blog to be a faithful witness of the Christian faith. I do not take that lightly.

Here’s what I will commit for the future of this blog:

-I will attempt one new blog post every day until May 24th. After that, I will probably post 2-3 times a week, and then likely once a week.

-I will try to answer you if you email me at gaysubtlety@gmail.com . If you comment on the blog, I may or may not respond depending if I have time and think my comment adds enough value to the discussion.

Now for the next post, I decided to lay out a brief summary of my theology of being gay because I think this will be best to frame my future posts. This post is lacking in how we should treat people, which is what I plan to focus on with this blog, but I feel this is an important post to write.

So here’s some of my theology on being gay:

1. Creation: I believe that when God created humanity through whatever process He used to create us, that He originally created sexual attractions to be only heterosexual. This is why Genesis 2:24*, where we see marriage instituted, says, “That is why a man leaves his father and mother and is united to his wife, and they become one flesh.” Being united and becoming one flesh is through the act of sex, and if intercourse sex results in a child, sex literally does produce one flesh between them — the child. Because Genesis 1-2 speaks to what God has created, this means marriage is rooted in God’s law and is invented by God; it was not invented by humans or any kind of human institution (such as government). And this is precisely why the definition of marriage is not culturally bound or meant for a specific time/place. I understand there is polygamous marriage in the OT, but this is under the Old Covenant and was not ideal. We have to use Jesus as our final authority on marriage, and when Jesus is asked by the Pharisees if a man could divorce his wife, Jesus responds “Haven’t you read…that at the beginning the Creator ‘made them male and female,’ and said, ‘For this reason a man will leave his father and mother and be united to his wife, and the two will become one flesh’? So they are no longer two, but one flesh. Therefore what God has joined together, let no one separate” (Matthew 19:3-6). So technically, in my opinion, when people claim that Jesus never talked about homosexuality in the Bible, this is true if they mean this directly but by referencing the creation account of marriage in Genesis, Jesus is indirectly speaking against gay relationships.

So to summarize my first point: 1. sexual feelings are meant to lead to sex  2. sex is within the bounds of marriage  3. marriage is defined between one man and one woman because of Genesis 2:24 and Matthew 19:3-6  4. thus, God’s original design for sexual feelings were for them to be heterosexual.

Also, it is important to note that in addition to having the “breath of life,” we are also created as embodied creatures, meaning part of being human is being made up of matter —– “the Lord God formed a man from the dust of the ground” (Genesis 2:7).

2. Fall: I believe that nothing in potentially untouched by the Fall. The Fall is when human beings sinned against God, and as a result, everything has the possibility to not be what God originally intended for it to be. This includes sexual attraction.

Now for sexual attractions to happen we must have biological reactions and processes going on in our brains that generate sexual attractions. And as I mentioned, since part of being human is being composed of the matter of creation, I have no problem stating that many of our conscious experiences are dependent on biological processes.

However…..

The matter of the world is fallen just like everything else. “For the creation was subjected to frustration, not by its own choice, but by the will of the one who subjected it, in hope that the creation itself will be liberated from its bondage to decay and brought into the freedom and glory of the children of God. We know that the whole creation has been groaning as in the pains of childbirth right up to the present time” (Romans 8:20-22).

The whole creation is corrupted by sin. How this corruption specifically affects people varies person by person. For me, I believe it has resulted in a gay orientation.

So I believe I am gay not because God wanted me to be gay but because of the Fall. I am unambiguously a male (I say that intentionally b/c there are people whose gender is ambiguous….again, there is nothing that the fall has potentially left untouched), so my sexual attractions should have developed as heterosexual but for some reason, they did not.

And to be honest, the reason for why they didn’t develop as heterosexual  is irrelevant to me. It may have been genetic; it may have been my environment; it was probably both. Both of these impact how our brain develops — how our neurons become wired. Even if it is environmental, my brain may stay that way because there are critical periods of development that once something becomes that way, it will largely stay that way. My brain seems to be pretty hard wired for same-sex attraction, and studies show that it will likely stay that way, even if I cautiously attempted reorientation therapy (I am neither endorsing nor eschewing reorientation therapy). There are some studies that show that some people can experience some degree of reorientation, but most people will still be gay (source: Authentic Human Sexuality, Balswick & Balswick, 2008, chapter 6).

I hope now people can see why stating “God made me gay, so He would want me to be in gay relationships” is bad theology. Just because you are a certain way beyond your control, does not make it ideal because it could be the result of the Fall. Even if being gay was truly 100% genetic, this would not give moral license for gay sexual behavior. Down syndrome is 100% genetic because of an extra 21st chromosome, but obviously we would not claim that Down syndrome was God’s intent for human beings. (As a side note — God most definitely cherishes and uses people with Down sydrome just as much as anyone else. I have caught so much joy through interactions with these individuals who cleary love Christ and who desire to show that love to others. My point is that I don’t think God intentionally designed anyone to have Down syndrome).

One of my biggest frustrations is Christians trying to debunk genetic arguments for homosexuality. And they do this not because the scientific methodology might be bad but because they fear genetic evidence will give moral license to gay relationships. It doesn’t.

3. Redemption: So will I always be gay? No. Thankfully, Jesus died and resurrected to make everything right again, and since His human embodiedment included possessing an actual human body, he redeemed our bodies as well. Right now, there is hope and redemption going on at microcosm level —- in the hearts of believers and those they are impacting. But the created order has not been made completely right, this will only happen when Christ returns, and this is when our bodies will be perfected.

Romans 8:23 says, “Not only so, but we ourselves, who have the firstfruits of the Spirit, groan inwardly as we wait eagerly for our adoption to sonship, the redemption of our bodies.”  And 1 Corinthians 15:50-54 says, “ I declare to you, brothers and sisters, that flesh and blood cannot inherit the kingdom of God, nor does the perishable inherit the imperishable. Listen, I tell you a mystery: We will not all sleep, but we will all be changed — in a flash, in the twinkling of an eye, at the last trumpet. For the trumpet will sound, the dead will be raised imperishable, and we will be changed. For the perishable must clothe itself with the imperishable, and the mortal with immortality. When the perishable has been clothed with the imperishable, and the mortal with immortality, then the saying that is written will come true: ‘Death has been swallowed up in victory.’”

I believe that when this happens, when my body is made anew — then I will no longer be gay. Likely, there won’t be heterosexual attractions either because Jesus says there is no longer marriage in heaven (Mark 12:25). The point is that my attractions will be how they are supposed to be. And in that, I can take hope and assurance.

But in the meantime, what am I supposed to do with these attractions if I cannot act out on them? What do they mean for my daily faith? And how should the Church respond and care for me? And how should the Church respond to those who are gay and not Christian?

That’s what I hope to unpack in future entries.

*All of my biblical references are from the NIV

I want to thank and reference Wesley Hill, who wrote Washed and Waiting.  I borrow many of his ideas, but as a disclaimer, he may not completely agree with me.