Sunday, July 3, 2011

Via, Veritas, Vita

The Way, The Truth, and The Life—John 14:6

Final Thoughts

I hope that I have given us all something to consider whether you are a fellow gay member of the Churches of Christ or of any other denomination or sect of Christianity.  I have not written anything in these posts that I do not firmly believe myself.  I do believe that Jesus is “the way, the truth, and the life.”  My journey to self acceptance was a long and torturous journey.  When I was sixteen, I took a handful of pills hoping that the agony that I felt would finally be over.  I did not know why I was different.  I did not yet at that time understand homosexuality.  I also did not understand the never-ending love that God has for me and all of humankind.  I thank God each and every day for me being unsuccessful on that day nearly twenty years ago.

Once I understood that the feelings I was having probably meant that I was homosexual, I had to come to terms with that.  It was not easy.  I had never once in my life been told that it was okay to be gay.  One of the early books I read while trying to figure all of this out was one called Finding the Boyfriend Within: A Practical Guide for Tapping into Your Own Source of Love, Happiness, and Respect by Brad Gooch.  Who is the Boyfriend Within? Simply put, he embodies "qualities we find attractive in ourselves but often imagine others to possess more fully, as well as ... dormant qualities we wish to nurture and grow."  The main lesson I learned from this was the technique where you basically schedule a date with yourself.  You dress nicely, cook a wonderful meal, and have a romantic evening with just you.  At first, I thought this would be my answer.  I could love myself and be content with a celibate life.

That was not the answer.  I still wanted the love of another man, and I still do want to find that man.  I wanted to feel another man in my arms, to be held by another man, to kiss another man, to make love to another man, etc.  These were all things I longed for, and things I could not give myself.  However, the struggle that I ultimately faced was: What would my family say?  How would God judge me?  So I began to pray and mediate on the subject.  I did what research I could back then, though I am a much better researcher now (thank you, graduate school).  What I came to realize back then was that God will always love me and never forsake me.  Though I won’t claim that God spoke to me like a burning bush in the desert, I do believe that the Holy Spirit allowed my heart to understand.  My faith could/would/will remain strong and never waiver.  It never did and never has.  The question was whether or not I could act on my homosexuality.  And at certain points I have been very promiscuous, which I do not think God smiled upon, but he did forgive me, and that is the most important thing.  God forgives.  God loves. God will not forsake us.

I love what Justin O'Shea had to say in a recent post in his blog Justin Dunes:
Let me tell you, briefly, I hope, what is at the bottom or foundation of me.  I've worked on this and as we joke about here "I am a work of art in progress. . . .always becoming.  ."  I hold fast to this.  We are created in the image and likeness of God. Love does such things. . .Love engenders and creates love.  Being a gay man is part of God's gift to me. . .how I live this out is my gift to God. . . .and to others.. . .because to be real  'religion is relationships - God... Justin . . .and everyone else.'
How I love is how I live and vice versa.  I believe too that God has given me all I need to become. . .grow into the man He created me to be.  All I have to do is use what I have been given. . .and. . .as I use and share this I receive more to keep on going. .
 
One of the most important reasons that I was able to come to these same conclusions is through the loving relationships I had with my friends who welcomed my sexuality and never, not once, made me feel bad about it.  My family has been another struggle, one that I hope I will be able to resolve some day.  If you are struggling with sexuality and religion, then know that I am here to help.  I started these posts to reach out to other GLBT Christians and to GLBT members of the Churches of Christ.  I know there are other GLBT members of the Churches of Christ out there, and I do hope that they eventually come across these posts.  We need the strength that friends can supply, we need the strength that God can supply, and we need the strength that our GLBT community can supply.

Thank you for reading, and God Bless You.

I feel like there should be an AMEN in there somewhere, LOL.

6 comments:

Greg said...

As a gay former member of the churches of Christ, I can only say "Thank you" for this series of articles (which I discovered serendipitously). I say "former" member, but though I have left it, it hasn't left me.
Like so many other LGBT people, I have moved haltingly toward self-acceptance. I never expected to hear of gay members of the Church of Christ -- it seemed almost unthinkable, much less ones who saw themselves as "okay."
To borrow from Shakespeare, "Thanks, thanks, and ever thanks."
Peace
Greg

JoeBlow said...

You are welcome, Greg, and it means a lot to me for you to say that. In this series, I not only wanted to discuss Christianity and homosexuality but also to connect with current and former gay members of the churches of Christ. Most people in the church would not agree that it is okay to be homosexual, but I think that is where we can make the change. We go solely by what the Bible teaches (or at least we say we do), but we need to look at the true and correct interpretations and remember that God's greatest commandment is LOVE. Thanks again for your comment, Greg. Anytime, you want to discuss things more, please feel free to email me at jec1918@gmail.com.

Anonymous said...

Joe -- I also just stumbled across the articles, and although I haven't had a chance yet to read all of them, I plan to.

My father was a Church of Christ minister who had six kids. Of the four boys, one died at 13, and the rest are all gay. I struggled for years...married, had kids, etc. After I got divorced, I was finally able to live my life freely, but once I came out, I was lovingly escorted out of the church. There were other people at that congregation -- "liberal" by CofC standards -- who everyone knew were gay, but the rule was as long as it wasn't official, they were welcome.

Ultimately, and somewhat ironically having spent decades drawing a distinction between the two groups, I joined the United Church of Christ. It still breaks my heart that I have been rejected by the church in which I spent 40 years, and I still have a lot of affection for the Church of Christ. My husband mentioned the other day that I seem to know where the local Church of Christ in every neighborhood in Southern California, and that wherever we travel, when we pass a Church of Christ I always point it out.

God bless you, in a very literal sense, for what you are trying to do. It's very brave, and very important. If the Church of Christ came around on this issue, would I go back? In a heartbeat. But the more of us who leave, the less likely that is to happen....

JoeBlow said...

Anon, thank you for your comment. I hope that you enjoy the other posts in this series. I hope that one day that I can help change some of the problems within the church's attitude.

Anonymous said...

Come back to the Church. Let go of the strange life. You can love other men, you just can't have sex with them. Christ loved many men, but never lusted after them. John laid on His breast,Paul told the men to greet one another with a heavenly kiss(in the middle east it's still often practiced), so you can even kiss a man in Amish churches and churches that are liberal Amish. Just let go of the lust, you aren't 21 ya know. Let go.

Anonymous said...

State, church or any social organization should not be moralizing, as they do. If one likes or wants to be or to live differently of the majority, it is his right as long as he or she don't impose on others.

I don't respect those who don't respect me.