I admit I am a radical. My faith is radical. I want to put Jesus’ teachings and values to practical use as I live and walk through my faith. Sometimes it can be tough. You’ve got people and, in many cases, society who block your way and oppress you. Other times you may be betrayed by those close to you. They won’t want to walk the same radical path to Jesus as you do. This is the reality of the path I’ve chosen.
Writing about this subject brings much pain to me, because it tackles issues that I’ve been struggling with since I was really young. It deals with rejection, the fringes of society, outcasts, oppression and mirrors the image of the people Jesus walked amongst during his ministry.
Most Christians know the traditional view on the Bible and homosexuality. It usually doesn’t take very long until you hear about some pastor or some famous Christian saying something about gays, lesbians, and queers. Overwhelmingly, many of the things said are negative, and oppressive.
I remember when that North Carolina pastor spoke on putting queers in concentration camps1 and killing them off. At first I was angry and I first felt the need for direct action and protest. Sounds easy right? Some protests with direct action to battle and shatter the homophobia of some pastor.
For me it’s not so easy. See, I knew who that pastor was talking about when he made those comments. He was talking about me and countless others. He was talking about me, a child of Jesus who was molded in the image of our creator. Immediately after my anger subsided it turned to shock, sadness, hurt and disbelief. No amount of radicalism or direct action could replace the hole in my soul.
At that moment I didn’t feel like a Christian, I didn’t feel like my old progressive radical self, I felt like a piece of garbage. To be honest, I curled up in my bed and cried for several hours. I felt that demeaned and outcasted. Not since my parents rejected me had I felt so rejected.
This is the reality of my life.
I’m pretty sure of my political affiliation. I don’t think there’s an exact word to describe me, but I’m pretty radical and progressive. My faith as a Christian and of that in Jesus is my guide on my path. These things I’m sure of.
What I’m not so sure of is where my being gay fits into all of this. It’s tough. Even though I’m a radical Christian who believes in progressive ideals and causes, I still worry. I worry about what the Bible says about me. I worry about what other Christians will think about me. And many times when I walk into a Church—even a more progressive and radical Church—I hold my head low, my shoulders droop, and I worry about someone discovering the truth. In effect, in many Church environments I don’t feel so safe.
It makes me sad because that isn’t what Jesus was like. Jesus interacted and liberated all sorts of people who society and the ancient Jewish faith had rejected: the disabled, the sick, the poor, prostitutes, the list goes on and on. I take great comfort in those parables and stories of Jesus defending those like me.
Jesus was so radical that he ministered to those who other Jewish people were not even allowed to speak or approach.
I pray a lot to Jesus. I pray that I’ll be accepted by the Church for something that I couldn’t help or choose. I want to be safe and radically loved in Church, just like Jesus would. And I want to be accepted. All of me—the good and the bad.
It can be very lonely being queer. In a heterosexist society it’s easy for a male or a female who is straight to fall in love and share eternity together. But for me, falling in love is something I fear with desperation. I live in a world that is hostile, and one that believes in a faith that at times can be oppressive, and I fear that I will be shunned even more if it happens. What is wrong with that picture?
I remember reading the article “A Holy Queering part 3.” I very much enjoyed the stories of those who were “sex positive.”
I sincerely wish I too could be sex positive. I wish I didn’t have to be afraid to fall in love with another man and form a life partnership with him. If only there was no stigma to such love I wouldn’t be so lonely.
Although Jesus showed a different kind of love (nonromantic), he wasn’t afraid to show radical love to others who had never experienced it before. I wish it could be the same with the other Christians I have interacted with. I wish they would show the same radical love and liberation that I try and strive to show and give.
And then maybe, just maybe, the stigma, depression, conflict and self-hated I have for myself for being gay would go away.
Yes, this is my struggle. But it is important to remember that I’m not the only one who is struggling. It is my hope and prayer to Jesus and our creator that there’s a change for better in the way the Church deals with this issue.
- In May 2012, pastor Charles L. Worley of Providence Road Baptist Church, Maiden North Carolina made these and other hateful comments toward gay, lesbian and queer-identified people. ↩