thHZLCH2C4Some people point to six key passages that they believe provide indisputable admonitions against homosexuality. We have considered how we relate to, understand, and interpret Scripture. That is to say, How We Read the Bible and I have shared with you My Relationship with Scripture. What about these six passages.?

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thA0JVK7IDThere are existential questions about my existence—who am I? Where did I come from? What does it mean to be me? These kinds of questions my mom raised in my mind when, for some reason, lost to me now, she urged me, as a twelve-year-old boy, to “Just be yourself, David.” I wondered then what that meant and such questions continue to unfold as life inexorably moves forward. The answers are not simple.

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thThis is the second part in a series about being both Christian and gay. Dealing with Scripture is the place we are beginning this conversation. In considering “How We Read the Bible,” I must first give you a statement of my faith: I claim faith in God and in Jesus the Christ, his Son. The totality of Jesus’ life among us—his teachings, his activity, his moral life, his resurrection after having been killed and buried—gives me hope. Yes, I am a gay man. For some people, mashing together my faith statement and my declaration of my sexual orientation creates a conundrum. Read the rest of this entry »

The context for this blog conversation, which I hope you will engage, is the intersection of faith and sexuality, particularly, my faith and sexuality. 

Beginning in the early eighties, I was drawn to every printed word about homosexuality I came across. I filed every newspaper and magazine article I could find. At the time, I had not self-identified as gay, but I was desperately trying to find clarity to my sexuality in the context of my faith. 

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“Being Christian and Gay” is a topic I am addressing in a series of posts on this blog. I am Christian. I am gay.

There is a dichotomy of passion and reason in current responses to the gay-Christian debate. Both of these fundamental responses—passion and reason—ebb and flow to a degree; but passion, which often is blind, usually usurps reason, which comes only after passion is quieted. It is my hope that my experience will shed some light on living a Christian life as a gay man. Read the rest of this entry »

Life inexorably moves forward. But forward movement does not always mean progress. One definition of progress is “advance or development toward a better, more complete, or more modern condition.” Movement in time will not automatically result in a better life but it does provide the space for progress. I have great hope for your life’s design by the end of 2017. Read the rest of this entry »

Don’t Be Afraid

Posted: December 16, 2016 in Gay Life
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I Could call this little piece, “Visits From an Angel.” Instead, I choose “Don’t Be Afraid,” the words that were spoken by the angel on four occasions. Fear has been bandied about over the last year, sometimes loosely, sometimes manipulative, sometimes emotionally, and sometimes in earnest. 

As an older gay man, I’ve thought about fear, not so much for my physical safety, not in a life and death way, but in a deeply personal way as you will see when your read on.

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Don’t Be Afraid

The angels told Zechariah not to be afraid and told Joseph not to be afraid and told
Mary not to be afraid and the angel told the shepherds not to be afraid. We musn’t fear but face what is before us and rise to the ocassion. The result of such bold faith in the face of genuine, reasonable fear was that they received peace and joy.

Zechariah, a Jewish priest, was old, as was his wife Elizabeth. They were childless and img_0028past child bearing age. One day, while performing his priestly duties—it was the point in the ritual for the incense offering —an angel appeared to the side of the altar of incense. Zachariah was terrified, fear overwhelmed him. The angel said, “Do not be afraid,” and told him that. His wife Elizabeth would give birth to a son.

Joseph was encouraged to not be afraid to continue with his relationship with Mary even though she was pregnant before they had had intimate sexual intercourse. Such a situation was cause for divorcing her and her life would be ruined forever. Because she was pregnant before she and Joseph were married, it was assumed that she had had sex with another man. But the angel told Joseph not to be afraid of public opinion, neither directed toward Mary nor toward him. So, he courageously followed through on the angel’s encouragement. Mary gave birth to Jesus, the Son of God

Mary, a young girl of about 15 years of age, was perplexed when the angel told her she was going to have a baby. The angel went on to say, “Do not be afraid, Mary, because God has favored you.” The angel told her that she would bear a son who would be a king.

While filthy, uneducated shepherds were taking care of their sheep one night, they were terrified when an angel came to them. But the angel said, “Do not be afraid. I’m bringing you good news. The Jews’ Messiah is born and you can go see him!”

In four different situations surrounding the birth of Jesus, people were told to not be afraid—his uncle was in the middle of religious duty; his dad, faced with the news that his fiancé was pregnant, was gripped with fear of being shamed by her assumed irresponsibility; his mom, told by the angel she was going to give birth to a baby, was perplexed and undoubtedly fearful; and shepherds were taking care of their sheep in an open field in the middle of the night when suddenly there was an angel talking to them. When an angel came to each of them at different times, they all had reasons to be afraid. Yet, each time the angel said, “Dont be afraid.”

An old man, in the middle of religious duty told his wife was to have a baby. A fiancé suddenly turns up pregnant. A teenager told she was going to have a baby who would be a king. Stinky smelly shepherds told to go see the Messiah of royal lineage being born as a baby.

Each of them were told to not be afraid of what lay ahead. Nor were they told to passively sit back and let come what may. Rather they were encouraged to take action, to move into the unknown, scary future, to anticipate its sweet goodness, to great it with joy.

A gay man in the shadows of life’s twilight, yet the brightness of life’s awakening, faces an aging body with a hungry heart. The vagaries of society has dealt a blow that sends a shiver of fear coursing through his body. The fear that life will pass him by without the pleasure of full and complete love gnaws at him. Is there a word from God, an angel to say, “Don’t be afraid; take the next step”?

For the uncle—his prayers would be answered and the angel promised joy for Zechariah and that “many will rejoice at the birth.”

For the dad—his fiancé would be spared humiliation and life-destroying accusations and give birth to a savior.

For the mother—she would be the mother of a special baby called Son of God.

For the shepherds—they were able to be of the first to worship the Jews’ long-awaite Messiah who would bring peace to the earth.

For the gay man—will he have days with full and complete love given and received?

The uncle, a religious leader, who blessed an apparent illegitimate birth—received joy.

The dad, in fear of humiliation—received peace.

The mother, a young teenager in the unsettledness of beginning adulthood—received joy.

The shepherds, on the fringe of polite society—received joy.

The gay man, fearful on the cultural fringe of society—will receive _______ .

Don’t be afraid.

Embrace the future

You will find peace and joy.

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Fear is worthy of our contemplation this Christmas season. These thoughts on fear  come from meditating on a study guided by my pastor during mid-week Bible study. The study prompted me to think about fears we face.

Is your fear that you might lose your job, that you can’t find a job and your retirement funds are almost depleted, that you’ll never be able to walk again, that your mom or dad or sister or brother or child may never speak to your again, that ___________ (put your fear in the blank)?

One of my fears that strongly stends out in the hours of my days is my fear that I will never have mutual and reciprocal love. This fear is accentuated by the brevity of life and quickly fleeting time. I fear ending life without the comfort, peace, and joy of having experienced such love. (This in no way detracts from the love I shared with Barbara my wife with whom I lived for 45 years. That is another blog post I’m working on. Stay tuned.)

Vive le Hand-holding!

Posted: December 12, 2016 in Uncategorized

img_1265Last night, just before drifting to sleep, I made the following note:

“I have a longing to touch and be touched, a desire for reciprocity, an act of mutuality. I have written in my journal about holding hands. As I reflect on hand-holding, I see it as a metaphor for something much deeper and more profound. I’m not thinking of something demonstratively sexual, though sexuality is a factor. What I’m talking about is something deeper and more spiritual.”

Reflecting on those late-night notes, I feel the need for illumination. After all, a thought at 11:00 p..m. looks different at 7:00 the next morning. So, I’ll expound upon hand-holding a little more.

Actually, I’m not talking about hand-holding per se. The spiritual side of hand-holding goes beyond intentional flesh to flesh touching. Holding hands is a deeper acknowledgment of the existence of another person then what’s experienced in a simple greeeting.

“Hi, it’s been a long time since I’ve seen you. How are you?”

“I’m find, and you”?

Holding hands has moved past such a greeting and has gone to a deeper level of mutual acknowledgement of existence. It’s like eye contact that goes deeper and lasts longer than casual acknowledgment of presence. It’s like saying “I see you, I really see you, and I want to know you more deeply,” but saying it with physical touch—”I like you being near me; your presence in my life is really important, so much so that I don’t want to let you go until I know you more deeply.”

This spiritual depth experienced in the lingering touch of hand-holding is not just one person declaring such deep personal feelings and desires to another person. Rather, there is a profound mutuality in hand-holding, an act of equal importance to both people. It ushers them into being vulnerable to each other. This reciprocity—an exchange of feelings, desires, respect, acceptance, and trust—is bound up in this touch of bare flesh on bare flesh. It demonstrates peace and trust and forgiveness each to the other. It declares that there is openness between the two people whose hands are clasped. It’s each acknowledging to the other that “I want to know you, and I want you to want to know me.”

To want to hold hands with someone is a desire to reach out to them in a deeper level than spoken language. If the reach for a hand is met with an extended hand, a deeper conversation of mutual touch has been engaged. This is true when considering hand-holding between lovers or with friends.

The language of hand-holding is not reserved for youth, although it is a significant experience of youths discovering each other’s deeeper realities. It is a natural language of human interaction regardless of age. As spoken language holds the potential for mutual understanding of the head and heart, so hand-holding grasps the potential for communication of the soul.

Vive le hand-holding!

I would love to hear from you. Please leave a comment if your so inclined. 

The beginning of…

Posted: November 10, 2016 in Uncategorized

(You might want to read yesterday’s post titled “The day after…” if you haven’t already read it, before reading “The beginning of…” )

“The beginning of…” is one of several phrases we use when on the threshold of momentous change. That phrase often, though not always, embodies hope. Where there is hope there is life. Without hope the quality of—and often the desire for—life diminishes. Hope gives life vitality. Within the Christian context, hope is inextricably connected to faith. In a letter titled “Hebrews” in Christian scripture, the author writes, “Now faith is the assurance of things hoped for, the conviction of things not seen” (Hebrews 11:1).

The New York Times described that hope as glee for some people and grief for others. There are many things people hope for in the beginning of the new president’s tenure. It is apparent that many people hope for change. The President Elect has promised to fulfill that hope. I hope for other things. Yet before I can hope, before I can experience the joy of life, I grieve for the loss of a once hoped for future, a grief many people share with me.

Grief cannot be rushed. Elisabeth Kubler-Ross’ seminal work On Death and Dying (1969) identifies five stages of grief—denial, anger, bargaining, depression, acceptance—through which one passes anytime they experience loss. All five stages are experienced when one grieves even though one may move through one or more stages quickly.

Some of us who are experiencing loss in this election cycle may need more time than others to grieve. If you are not feeling loss but rather are elated, please give space and time to us who grieve. We must move through the process, don’t rush us.

I admit I first dealt with denial, a feeling that it couldn’t happen, surely something is going to reverse the election. I’m now still angry that the country I once loved now feeels like one that doesn’t want me and people like me or even people like the worshipping friends with whom I sang hymns and offered prayers last Sunday. America was once my country, but now I feel that at least half of it says that Hispanics, transsexuals, African-Americans, gays, disadvantaged, and marginalized people are not wanted. I echo Jeff Chu’s words: “Join me in my tears if you want. I’d really like that.”

Some of you reading this will want to be quick with words about “God is still on his throne,” or “not everyone believes everything the President Elect has said.” If that is true, why did you vote for him, or why did he say those things? This isn’t a game in which we say things we don’t believe to garner votes from people who don’t believe them. By so doing many people have been hurt. (Take notice of the spontaneous public marches and rallys last night.)

As I deal with my grief and lament my loss, I see a glimmer of hope through my tears. I hope…
…that the disquiet injected into the campaign will moderate,
…that grief and loss some people experience will not be ridiculed or spoken of lightly by those who glee,
…that cooler heads will prevail,
…that hurt and anger will transition into reparative action,
…that America will move forward into the greatness of a bright future,
…that there will be a day when America will not pine for an unrecoverable yesteryear, and
…that there will be the day when American will be future oriented once again.

All of this is complicated so don’t throw out cliches willy-nilly. Such words generally don’t help the people they are targeted toward. A greeting-card philosophy may be appreciated but not so helpful. What helps is when someone who voted for the President Elect sits down beside someone who voted for the other major candidate, puts an arm around them, and enters into their pain. When that happens there’s hope—there’s life.

One more quote from Jeff Chu: “The failure to love your neighbor comes in a multitude of forms. It’s complicated, yet so devastatingly simple.”

As a Christ follower, I know there’s hope in Jesus. So I’ll work through my grief. Be patient with me—or offer a tear with me. In the meantime, look for hope wherever you can find it—for in hope there is life.

The day after…

Posted: November 9, 2016 in Uncategorized

The day after…. How often do we use that phrase. When we encounter momentous events in our lives, those experiences that have the potential to dramatically change life in all its various manifestations, The phrase the day after… often becomes part of the legacy of the event. And so it is with the presidential election of 2016.

I woke up this morning the day after the election. I had slept in because, last night, I had stayed up late waiting for the complete counting of votes in states where the race was close. I came fully awake quickly. We now have a President Trump in waiting, or so I heard on NPR. Although I had stayed up late, I had retired before the announcement was made and a candidate had conceded.

On this “the day after,” I admit to feelings of despair, of fear. How did we get to this place where we, the American people, elected (not by a popular vote, which the president elect did not receive, but by the archaic electoral college process) a president who has demonstrated…
…misogyny (women are sex objects to be used),
…bigotry that treads on religious freedom (ban all Muslims),
…unkindness toward strangers and foreigners in our midst (a position antithetical to Christian scriptural teachings of gracious hospitality),
…a limited vocabulary compensated for by using crass, course, language
…a desire to protect us—with a wall, by withdrawing from decades old alliances and treaties, and by crushing foreign states with our power,
…a personality of a self-centered power grabber (rather than being meek and humble, which is a life-principle highly valued in the teachings of all world religions: Hinduism, Buddhism, Islam, and Christianity, to name four),
…an attitude like a schoolyard bully, steps over—perhaps, more often, on—minorities, gays, immigrants, and other marginalized populations, and
…a lack of integrity by failing to give the electorate a path—including specific actions and resources to actualize them—toward realizing the broad visions he has promised for healthcare for all people, providing living wages for all people, withdrawing from the world and building hedges of protection. How will he turn brush strokes into details? (Example: Based on his rhetoric of creating many jobs and raising wages, he has yet to provide specific real-life examples where increased wealth of large corporations and wealthy people will result in someone(s) who is(are) out of work becoming self-sufficient in a job(s) that provides a wage that is life sustaining.).

This will be our leader. We will look up to him to guide our country in a progressive posture of growth and development. He will represent us in international relationships. He is the model of a leader our children will emulate.

He will be our President!

This is The day after… and, it is The beginning of…. Therein is hope—yes, even in our President Elect’s four-year term of office. Let’s talk about hope—tomorrow.