To Love & Be-Loved…
The time has come to be forthright with all of you, dear readers, and to advocate for something that is close to my heart. To my shame, I have spent too many years living in fear of being honest and speaking up about my beliefs on same-sex relationships, marriage, and furthermore unequivocally stating that I am an ally of the LGBTQ community.
I know some will ask how I arrived at this place, and to that, my only response is the poem from Rumi above. I found myself caught by the Divine Lover in a moment of being woken up.
I moved to Indianapolis in 1996 – a very naïve and innocent young man from a small WASPy rural town in East Central Illinois. My first awakening came from working with a man named Jason, who was flamboyantly and proudly gay. Being a good evangelical “Christian” boy, I was initially put off by him and was unsure how to talk to him about his “lifestyle” and try to “convert” him. However, over time, as I got to know him…as a person…and heard his story and became friends with him, my heart started to change. Jason was not an object to be converted; he was a human being with a story and a family and desirous of communion and friendship…just like me. That was the beginning of my heart changing, and the start of a shift in my attitude and understanding that would ultimately lead me to believe that, like the woman at the well, the Divine is truly everywhere present and filling all things…even those I had been raised to believe were wrong.
Over the course of the last 20 years I have met and become friends with many brothers and sisters in the LGBTQ community. I have been overwhelmed by the depth of their love for my wife and I, their desire to truly be kind and loving to everyone that they meet, and how passionate they are about being good stewards of the Earth, caring for their bodies like temples, and allowing others to be free and choose their own destiny; all things that I read about Jesus’s teachings in the Gospels and was raised to believe are true and good. And yet…these were the people who were supposed to be “living in sin” and somehow “intrinsically disordered” according to many of the popular Christian preachers and teachers. Ironically, I experienced more hatred and vitriol from many in my own Christian community towards those who were not like them, and to my shame, for some time, I too regurgitated the notion that “these people” were broken and were choosing to be “that way” and could be “healed” by prayer and “conversion therapy.” Essentially, the teaching was that they were not the way “God” made them, and they could be “made whole again” if they would just repent and flee these sinful desires…and of course live alone and celibate for the rest of their lives. Wait…what?
I began to wake up to the reality that my dear friends were not victims of abuse, or perverts, or “disordered” to any degree. They were simple, normal, kind, loving people who wanted the same things that I wanted; communion with others and someone to love and go through life with, perhaps even forming a family and raising children. How was this disordered? How was this a “threat to marriage and the family?” The myth that I had been sold was that all queer people only wanted gay sex and there was nothing more than “perverted desires” in their hearts. There could be nothing further from the truth, and yet, because of these accusations and slander, the “church” has driven people into isolation with no recourse but to find another place to belong. When any of us are driven into the cold dark night, we find those who will love us, because we all need and want communion with someone, regardless of whether it is good or safe.
I am convinced that we can do better. Christians can DO BETTER. We can be the place where all are welcome to work out their salvation and be included in the family. In the end, for 99% of people I have met who are Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Transgendered, or Questioning, it is not about promoting “gay sex.” It IS about being treated equally and fairly and being free to live according to one’s own heart.
I know this post will shock some people. I know it will upset some of you. I know that some of you will feel betrayed. I know that there will be those who believe I have “fallen away from the Orthodox truth” and will be concerned for my salvation and soul. Thank you. Please pray for me. For all the things above, I am sorry for hiding for so long and I ask your forgiveness and I would also ask this kindness; if you have questions or concerns, please speak to me in person. Let us have a dialogue and discussion, and let us love one another no matter our “position” on anything.
More importantly, to all of my brothers and sisters in the LGBTQ community, I ask for YOUR forgiveness for remaining silent for so long. I am a coward and have been afraid of losing the respect of those whose favor I have worked hard to earn in my adult life. I have been in error, and have realized that, as the poet says, Love is always pulling us like a river…because the Divine Lover is inviting us into the Divine Dance…welcoming us to be a part of the communion of Trinity…of Love. All of us. No matter what.
You are the beloved of God. WE are the beloved of God. With no conditions…no moral ramifications…no requirements. You are already loved. What will we do with that love? Live it out and love everyone around us, spreading peace and communion and welcoming all…or forming clubs that pit “us against them” in some futile attempt to separate one another into clans and tear each other down, each believing to have the “moral high ground?”
My faith is intact. In fact, it is stronger than it has ever been. It is because of my faith that I have reached this point. I am for fidelity and monogamy and self-sacrificial love in ALL relationships. Let’s start there. As the poet says, I am confessing to you all that I am naked – no longer wrapping myself in a robe of theological “church-y” words. I…AM…AWAKE…and I am IN LOVE with the Lover and the Beloved…and I…love…you…as you are.