Saturday, March 04, 2006

Engaging the Culture

I read Ex-Gay Watch occasionally. Not often, mind you. I probably check in over there about once a week and if I feel so inclined, I'll comment. There are some posts, like this one, last month which tend to invite my perspective on things. I've been able to conduct civil and meaningful conversations with the folks over there. They've even linked to my blog under the category "in the middle", which I guess is fine with me. I think it's interesting that I have made no bones about my beliefs that homosexuality is not God's plan or design, homosexual acts are sinful, and "change" in attractions is possible, and yet, I'm still accepted and even affirmed at such a place.

What gives?

Some people who read my blog may think it's ME who "gives" and not in a good way. I may at times appear to be "soft on sin". Is being listed as "in the middle" like being "lukewarm" in the spiritual sense? We all know what happens to lukewarm Christians. In truth, those are thoughts that I've wrestled with. Worrying that these things may be true, I've spent a little time communicating with some folks who I consider to be wise. This man, this man, and a few others for whom I have no links. They all assure me that this is not the perception they have of me from reading my blog.

After thinking about it for some time (imagine that) I'm ready to articulate some reasons I think I'm able to communicate not only pleasantly but in a sense of community with the folks at Ex-Gay Watch. It is this.

I speak only for myself and from my own experience when I talk to them. I can't say for sure that all men who desire sexual encounters with other men can make the switch and desire the same thing with women. In my personal experiences, this is the case. I believe holiness should be the goal, not having sex with the opposite gender. Some may have to give that part of themselves over to God to the point that they don't care if they ever have sex again, as long as they are right with Him. That level of dedication to God is tough stuff. But it's what I believe and I'm honest about it. While I've not made that exact statement at Ex-Gay Watch, that core belief drives much of what I communicate. I've stated plainly that a complete, 100% switch in orientation is not the goal, and furthermore, a remnant of struggle is not a bad thing for humans who tend to become prideful and lazy if not reminded from "whence they came". In other words, I become prideful and lazy if not slapped up side the head occasionally with how wretched I truly am.


I'm also careful to be considerate of the sorts of verbiage that offends gay folks and to literally humble myself at the feet of Jesus before I say anything there. I can't imagine conversing with them (after publicly claiming their orientation's behaviors to be sinful) without taking into account my own tendency to sin and my own dire need of forgiveness. I've learned from the folks at Ex-Gay Watch that saying "change is possible" is a particularly charged comment to them. I'm not saying you were gay and now you are straight. I'm saying, my struggle with sin (any sin) decreases as I journey closer to God, take the risks He calls me to take, and submit my will to His will. Still another thing I've learned and attempt to incorporate into my communication with those who are gay is that they don't appreciate being referred to as "homosexuals". They are gay. I call them gay. They also don't consider their orientation to be a "lifestyle" anymore than I consider myself to be living the lifestyle of a woman. It wasn't a choice they made to be gay. When I put this in the context of my own Christianity I recognize that I didn't get to choose my struggles. My sinful nature chose me, I certainly didn't choose it. God has revealed to me some of the reasons I desire things that aren't part of His plan. I struggle to continue to submit my will to His.

The bottom line is to maintain a humble spirit and Christ-like attitude even when others may not be doing so. It's important not to jump at the chance to argue every single point you don't necessarily agree with but to keep your eyes on the big picture. And what is the big picture? Reflecting Christ who glorifies our Father in Heaven.

grace

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10 comments:

Angie said...

WE ARE SO ON THE SAME PAGE!

I've been checking out your blog off and on for awhile (I'm new to the blog community myself). And today I just can't resist commenting!

I feel like we're living in a parallel universe, with different life circumstances yet the same feelings, beliefs, attitudes and love. So knowing that YOU exist is such a sweet comfort for me.

I have a feeling we could talk for hours...

Hey, in case you haven't read Jeff Kursonis' blog (a pastor in NY), check it out. He has 2 recent posts called "My Gay Position" that are so refreshing. Since we seem to share some similarities, I think you'd like it too. It's long, but just excellent.

His blog is:
www.communionofthearts.blogspot.com

Much love to you, new friend!

em said...

Hey Grace! Thanks for sharing your thoughts.

I had a conversation with a friend this weekend who is feeling a good deal of duress with some personal decisions and spiritual challenges. One thing that kept coming to mind during this conversation is that a life of faith is just "messy" sometimes.

We often believe and propogate an idyllic view of what a "Christian life should look like" and blah-de-blah. Most images of this "faithful life" are just Christian concepts painted on a secular canvas. Anyway, I think it's more-indicative of a faithful life when we propogate the gospel in ways that are humble and personal while not taking it "personally" if someone doesn't agree with us.

Just some stuff that your post sparked in my mind... thought I'd share! :-)

grace said...

Angie: Thanks so much for your encouraging comment! Who knows, maybe we will get the chance to talk for hours one day? I'd love that as well, I'm sure. Thanks also for the website reference and I look forward to reading your blog!

Emery: Messy Faith...hmm...sounds like a good name for a weblog or maybe a Christian rock band. ha! Yep...you're right on target, as usual! :)

grace

em said...

I'm going to start up a rock band! oh yeah!

Peterson Toscano said...

Grace, as someone who endured 17 years of "ex-gay" therapy, I too try to speak about these issues with somewhat of an open hand. I mean I believe that in most cases "ex-gay" experiences do more harm than good, but I can only speak with authority about my own story.

In the current debate about the gay issue some of the casualties can be those of us who wish to see things as more complex than gay-straight-ex-gay. Of course there are political ramifications to acknowleging some areas of doubt or divergence from the party line (regardless of what party we allign ourselves with).

I appreciate your open hand, your honest questions, the clearness about what you believe and the willingness to take responsibility for your words. So refreshing.

grace said...

Thank you Peterson. As I commented once at Ex-Gay Watch, I have no reason to be anything but honest or to tell any story but the one God has given me. If I don't believe He's big enough to take care of the details then it's doubtful He's big enough to be of much help whatsoever.

We sing a little song with our 3-5 year-olds in children's worship which says..."My God is so BIG, so strong and so mighty, there's nothing my God cannot do, for YOU!"
He can either do anything at all or nothing at all. Most of us just need to get out of the way and let Him do it.

Thanks so much for your affirming comments! It does mean alot to me coming from you. (i've read your blog) ;)

grace

grantdale said...

And this, Grace, is why you don't get a hard time from "us" at ExGayWatch. :)

Your story, and that of your husband, is your own. You both appear to have what you wish, and far be it for us or anyone else to deny you that.

Your own religious belies are, to us, neither here nor there. They are yours. You're entitled to them as much as anyone is.

But you haven't used those beliefs to assume too much about ourselves. Or accuse us of anything. Far too often we get abused by people who know nothing of ourselves yet are prepared to accuse us of the most vile and awful of crimes. (I don't need to specify, y'all can prob'ly guess...). Or to make the most outrageous assumptions about our parents or our life together.

We live in hope that more will realise that -- the obvious withstanding -- we've never been abused, we had wonderful childhoods, we're surrounded by decent and honest people and we are both loved and repected by those who know us; as individuals and as a couple.

We do, however, have that one quirk :) We can live with that, we hope others do to.

There's too much that needs fixing in this World to worry about us.

grace said...

Grantdale,
Thanks for articulating that. I've been interested to hear what you guys really think. I know you don't represent everyone in that "camp" but your words probably resonate for many.

I think you hinted at something deep in your last sentence. So many of us think that God wants US to do the fixing...when He really needs us to just keep working on our own story and let HIM fix what needs to be fixed. That requires a HUGE amount of faith and risk, though.

ok...enough....gotta get ready for school!
Thanks again for reading and commenting!
grace

Robert said...

Grace,

I think one of the aspects of yours and Tdub's story is that it sort of "falls through the cracks." The gay community as a whole does not give a lot of support to men and women who do have same sex attraction, but who stay in, or start, opposite sex relationships. To the best of my knowledge, there are no such support groups in the gay community centers throughout the country to help people with SSA and their families. It would be nice if there were.

If someone wants to become "ex-gay," I have no problem with that. I think the problem arises where ex-gay organizations get co-opted by political groups, such as Focus on the Family, and its leaders take positions that are harmful to the gay community. The particularly frustrating thing is that there really is no need for any ex-gay organization to take on political issues.

As always, it is great to read your words!

Robert

grace said...

Thanks Robert! Where the HECK have you been???

I am in complete agreement in separating the politics from the ex-gay organizations. I'm sure they have reasons for being so "activist" natured in the political realm...and those may be good and fine reasons....they just don't mesh with love, grace, and redemption all that easily. Or at least, to me, they certainly don't seem to.

grace