BEFORE I BEGIN, I WANT TO MAKE IT CLEAR THAT THIS BLOG IS NOT A DISCOURSE ON HOMOSEXUALITY OR SEXUAL ORIENTATION. RATHER, IT IS MEANT TO PROVIDE A GLIMPSE INTO THE MIND AND HEART OF A SEEKER STRUGGLING WITH THE CONVICTION OF THE HOLY SPIRIT. IT REVEALS GRAPHICALLY WHAT HAPPENS WHEN CHRISTIANS FAIL TO SPEAK THE TRUTH IN LOVE CHOOSING A SPIRIT OF JUDGEMENT AND CONDEMNATION INSTEAD. I WILL NOT ENTERTAIN ANY WHO WILL TAKE THIS OPPORTUNITY TO TAKE THIS BLOG BEYOND ITS STATED INTENT AND WILL DELETE ANY COMMENT TO THAT EFFECT.
Dear friends, I am a gay man and for the longest time, I have held a grudge against God and against Christians. It is a strange kind of grudge and sometimes highly illogical because I did not believe in God and yet I held a grudge against Him. More accurately, I held a deep resentment of the God that is proclaimed by Christians, so I guess my grudge was more against the concept of a God who Christians proclaim to be a God of love that chose to make me as I am and then condemn me for something that I had little choice in. So, when it comes right down to it, my grudge was against you. Sorry for being blunt, but there is really no other way to say what I have to say.
For the longest time, I was content in my dislike, hatred, if you will until recent events in my life caused me to dig up skeletons that I had thought I had buried. You see, my father passed but before he did, he became a Christian, the thing that I hated. I was in conflict, I love my dad and he had been a constant source of support and encouragement to me, so when he announced that he was no longer an agnostic and declared that he had become a Christian, I took it as a terrible betrayal and my hatred for Christians became more acute and it was focused on one man, the one you call Arisen, the one I know as Chris. It was he who had been talking to my father, and in my mind, it was he who ripped my dad from me and deprived me from what little time I had left with my father as he laid dying in palliative care. In my mind, he was just another religious fanatic who preyed upon a dying man to sell him a bill of goods ... another self-righteous holier than thou Christian who for all his declaration of love represented the greatest hypocrisy known to man. For months, I festered and stewed in my resentment and it went so far that I refused to visit my dying father. Then one day a few months before his passing, dad called me and asked to see me. Reluctantly, I went but I was ready to confront him and demand from him an explanation for his betrayal. I was determined to 'save' him from the poison that Chris had fed him. I wanted my dad back. Yet, things did no go as I had planned. When I saw my father, I broke down and cried like a baby and the "weak, dying" man who had been hoodwinked by a religious fanatic turned the tables on me and began comforting me instead!
He cradled my head in his arms as I sobbed over his prostrate form, his voice clear and strong and he said, "Karl, I know how you feel and I know what you are thinking, I am your father and I know you. I know when you are angry and I know you are hurt because not too long ago, I would feel exactly the same way if the tables are reversed. Son, I do not have a whole lot of time left and I do not want us the part with you feeling as you do. Will you give me a chance and listen to what I have to say?"
Sobbing, I nodded my head and dad began to speak.
Honestly, I do not remember exactly what he said, my mind was too messed up, but I do know that I left realizing that my dad was still as clear headed and independent as he ever was, that he made the decision to become a Christian entirely on his own because he had an "encounter with God", that Chris was a good friend who only answered his questions and that I should get to know him.
Somehow, it did not make things better. It only made things worse. You see, I have always admired my dad for his keen mind and clarity of thought. He is more well read than any man that I have ever known and he is not easy to convince and now he is saying that he was wrong about God and about what it truly means to be a Christian. In a way, it would have been much easier for me if I had been right about my dad being a dying man convinced by a conniving and unscrupulous peddler of false hope. Now I was not as much angry at Chris as I was afraid of him. For the remaining months I did everything I could to avoid Chris, calling my father before I went to see him to make sure that Chris would not be there, making sure that I was not at the hospital when Chris would usually visit, and so on. Then a week before my father passed, he called me and asked to see me. When I arrived, Chris was there. My father knew that his time was coming and typical of him, he wanted to make arrangements for his funeral. In deference to me and his friends, he wanted his funeral to be held in the funeral home that he had made arrangements with over a year ago, but he wanted Chris to deliver a Christian message and to conduct the service.
I was not happy but what could I do? It was dad's dying wish. Even so, I kept myself distant and only met with Chris once before the funeral after my father passed. As you may have gathered by now, I did not like Christians. Here is why.
Ever since I could form coherent thought and remember, I was different. You could say that I am effeminate. As a child I preferred to play with dolls and do things that girls preferred to do, but when I was very young, it did not seem to matter. I had no concept of social acceptance or rejection, nor did the kids my age. Nevertheless, it did not last, by the time I was three, boys had begun to notice and the taunting and bullying began, getting worse with each passing year. To say that my childhood was filled with torment would be an understatement, so by the time I was 10, I had learned to hide who I was and pretend. Very consciously, I did what boys did and even overcompensated, often getting into trouble because I had become the bully myself. Fueled by fear, hatred and resentment I became the tormentor that I feared and hated. It did not always work though, because my mannerism would always give me away. When it did, and if anyone would dare comment, I would lash out with violence.
If you think that puberty and teenage years are difficult for "normal" people, it was a living hell for me. I do not think that you can understand, but imagine having all the anx of a teenager while consciously living a lie. Imagine dating girls and putting up a show behaving in the way boys my age were supposed to behave while constantly feeling repulsed, dirty, and noxious. Fear followed me everywhere. By the time I was 15, the constant stress and distress caused me to become an overweight obnoxious boy given to bouts of anger and violence. At around this time, the gay rights movement was gaining momentum and many public figures were "coming out of the closet". I remember wanting to drop all pretense and do the same but I was afraid ... so very afraid. 15 years had taught me the consequence of being different. In desperation, I joined a Youth Group at a church near my home. I thought that perhaps religion would "cure" me. I thought that perhaps Christians would be more loving and accepting. At first, things did seem better, the youth pastor was always talking about how much God loves us, how important it is to know that God made us special and significant, how important it is for us to be "real" ... authentic. So, one day, I went to this man and confided in him. I poured my heart out thinking that he would understand and help me. Instead, he reacted just like all the others, the look of revulsion on his face and the disgust in his heart was palatable. Instead of helping me, he said that my feelings and my impulses were an abomination, that if I continued thinking the way I thought, I would be cast out into the pit of hell. He said that I had perverted God's creative intent in me. I tried to tell him, that I had not, that I could not help feeling and being what I am. That I had always been this way, but he refused to listen. I left him feeling even dirtier, even more worthless, even more lonely and afraid than when I stepped into his office.
I am not saying that this man betrayed what I told him in confidence, but two days later, a group of boys and girls from the youth group accosted me behind the church. They began to taunt me and push me and after a few minutes the boys began to hit me and kick me while the girls jeered. Their screams of "******", "*****", "*******", and "freak" thundered in my ears and these were worse than the beating I was getting. I left the church that day and began to hate God and to hate Christians. Everything they said, everything they taught was revealed for the hypocrisy that it was.
A few months later a popular and loved teacher at my school "came out of the closet" and although there was a tremendous furor over this, it did not turn out badly for him. He became my hero and I followed his lead. Gradually, I began to meet other people like me and I began to read books and listen to men and women who were very articulate in championing gay rights. Soon I became a gay activist myself and things began to change for me, at least on the outside, I was making friends and meeting people. But on the inside, something still rankled. Even though I had convinced myself that there was no God, a part of me refused to let go. Yet, why would God make me this way? Time and again I would read the Bible trying to find something in it that would make everything OK. I tried to find something that would make sense of my life, who I am, and what I am. The words that the youth pastor said to me so many years ago still echoed in my mind ... abomination! abomination! abomination! Time and again, I would push it away pretending that I did not care, but I did ... I just refused to admit it. Then I met Christians that told me that God was fine with who I am, that the parts of the Bible that spoke against people like myself were the words of men, not of God. That the writers of the Old Testament were homophobic and hateful men. That Paul who wrote in the New Testament was injecting his own biases and bigotry. They told me that God was pleased with me because He made me. That His words had been distorted and that He had been misrepresented. At first, I gladly ate up these explanations, but in time, I began to ask other questions. I asked these Christians how anyone can trust the Bible if it is full of errors and misrepresentations. If it is wrong in these things, what else is it wrong about? Eventually I began to see them as no different than those who had been so hateful towards me. In fact, they strengthened my belief that the the Bible was unreliable, a collection of fables and lore with no basis in fact. A book of superstition written by ignorant and self righteous people. A conspiracy of the church, a fabrication to put men and women under their control. It would seem that this should have ended it, that these would have strengthen my belief that there was no god and that if there was, he was a mean spirited and spiteful deity not worthy of my time, respect, let alone worship and adoration. In a way it did, but that nagging feeling that something was amiss persisted even though they had been greatly diminished.
Then my father became a Christian and I met a pastor who did not condemn me and my world became unraveled again. Before my father died, he tried to explain many things to me, things that he had come to understand as a result of his conversations with this pastor. My father told me that he had come to understand that God did not consider my 'sin' any more or less than any other sin. That the pecking order of sin is indeed a man-made construction. He told me that my condition and in fact the condition of all humanity is a corruption of God's creative intent. He said that things are not what they should be because of sin. Amazingly, he also told me God has a purpose for me and that He loved me. He told me that he had come to peace with God and that it was a wonderful thing ... that he wished I could have the same peace as well. Then he died and I was left hanging, desiring more. After he passed, I began to read his journals in which he detailed his thoughts and his conversations with this pastor and my need grew. But still I fought it. I did not want to revisit all the unpleasant experiences from my past. Yet, the nagging feeling returned, now with even more force. So, weeks after after my father's funeral, I sought this pastor out.
We have been conversing frequently ever since and in a way, he was everything I expected, but he was also quite a surprise. Even though he was clear about how God viewed my lifestyle, he was equally clear that God loved me. Even though he spoke his mind and was unwavering in what the Bible teaches, he was gentle, loving, and kind. Not once, did I feel that I was being condemned or preached to. He was an enigma and I could not hate him, in fact, like my father, I came to like him and consider him a friend. He did not diminish or deny that I could not help being who I am and he seemed to understand my turmoil and anguish. Most of all he did not dismiss my arguments and objections, rather, he listened and empathized. I have heard the 'salvation message' before, but somehow it has taken a new flavour, a different colour. We have been talking for a while now and while I am not yet fully convinced, my anger and hatred for anything Christian has subsided.
When Chris asked me if he could share my thoughts, I was apprehensive at first, but he said that it was important that his fellow Christians knew what people like myself are going through, that if by sharing, others like me may not be made to feel rejected by God or to reject God themselves, I agreed. If what is in this letter can spare another the feeling of scorn and rejection that I experienced, if it can prevent another young person being bullied and beaten up, then perhaps the horror of my youth and the pain in my life may have some meaning. I am not a writer and I agreed to let Chris pen this letter for me. I have read it and I am amazed at how accurately Chris has captured my thoughts. This last paragraph however is mostly mine, even though Chris did help me polish it. I cannot say to you that I am a brother in Christ yet, so I will end it by simply saying goodbye and thank you for reading,
A Seeker who is still searching but now without fear or hate,
Dear brothers and sister in Christ, It is my hope that you will receive this blog in the spirit of its intent. I want to conclude by asking you to know that even though Karl's experiences are in the context of his particular struggles with his sexuality, they are not particular to his situation alone. There a many hurting and lost people beyond the walls of our churches. I repeat what I said in my previous blog:
|May we all have the heart of Christ, may we all look out upon a lost and broken world and feel compassion. It is one thing to feel anger and indignation, it is quite another to feel compassion, and it is even more to feel love. Yes, God's justice and wrath is kindled when He beholds the world today, but His heart has not changed. The same love that He showed upon the cross blaze just as mightily today as it did 2,000 years ago, just as it did at the Fall. For God is immutable, He changes not.|
In His love,